# INFSCI 1000: Statistical Analysis of Data

Instructor: Marek J. Druzdzel

#### Overview

*"The theory of probabilities is at bottom only common
sense reduced to computation."
*
--- Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace

*"Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient
citizenship as the ability to read and write."
*
--- H.G. Wells

*"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
*
--- Benjamin Disraeli

Statistics and the underlying theory of probabilities belong
to very widely used branches of mathematics.
Statistics is applied as a means of using data to gain insight
into real world systems.
It does not take much to realize that statistics works amazingly well.
Consider, for example, the amazing precision of election polls or
the premium calculations by insurance companies.
On the other hand, statistics is often misunderstood and misapplied.
Certain resent towards statistics, expressed for example by the
widely known quote by Disraeli, is not uncommon.

This course provides an introductory treatment of statistics,
along with elements of probability theory.
It is very practically oriented and is not designed to teach you
the formal details of statistical procedures or to make you
an expert practitioner of the specific statistics tools.
That you can and should get in other specialized courses.
In this class, you will develop broad critical abilities and
understand basic use and meaning of statistics.
The course should improve your ability to think about data and
use statistical methods with understanding.
One of my main goals is to convince you that probability and
statistics are indeed, as Laplace once wrote, common sense
reduced to computation.
The approach taken in this course is somewhat unorthodox compared
to most existing statistics textbooks that I am aware of.
We will talk explicitly about the concept of causality and causal
graphs and how they are related to statistics.
You will learn to reason about relevance and dependence.
We will talk about observation, experimentation, and statistical
decision making.
Knowledge of statistics will prove useful in both your professional
career and in your personal life, as it will improve the soundness
of your thinking.

Marek Druzdzel's teaching page

Marek Druzdzel's home page

marek@sis.pitt.edu /
Last update: 12 September 2003