statistics
http://plus.maths.org/content/taxonomy/term/705
enMaths in a minute: What's average?
http://plus.maths.org/content/maths-minute-all-about-averages
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<p>Why the humble average can be grossly misleading.</p>
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<p>Most people have more than the average number of ears. This might seem odd, but it's true. The vast majority of people have two ears, but the few who have only one or none bring the average down to less than two. It's easy to illustrate this by imagining there are only five people in the world with one of them having only one ear. The average number of ears is </p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/maths-minute-all-about-averages" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/maths-minute-all-about-averages#commentsaverageFP-top-storymedianmodestatisticsTue, 10 Feb 2015 11:34:20 +0000mf3446310 at http://plus.maths.org/contentGood-looking gibberish
http://plus.maths.org/content/good-looking-gibberish
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<img class="imagefield imagefield-field_abs_img" width="100" height="100" alt="" src="http://plus.maths.org/content/sites/plus.maths.org/files/abstractpics/5/29_jan_2015_-_1015/icon.jpg?1422526557" /> </div>
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<p>How to approximate the English language using maths.</p>
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<p>How would you approximate the English language? In the 1940s the mathematician <a href="http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Shannon.html">Claude Shannon</a> asked himself just this question. Given a machine that can produce strings of letters, how would you set it up so that the strings it produces resemble a real English sentence as closely as possible?</p>
<div class="rightimage" style="width: 262px;"><img src="http://plus.maths.org/content/sites/plus.maths.org/files/news/2015/shannon/shannon.png" width="262" height="324" alt="Claude Shannon"/><p>Claude Shannon.</p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/good-looking-gibberish" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/good-looking-gibberish#commentsFP-top-storyInformation theorymathematics and languagestatisticsMon, 09 Feb 2015 10:36:57 +0000mf3446307 at http://plus.maths.org/contentThe leaning tower of PISA?
http://plus.maths.org/content/leaning-tower-pisa-0
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<p>This year's PISA results have caused predictable headlines, but do the statistics add up?</p>
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<p> According to the latest <a href="http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results.htm">PISA</a> study
Britain's teenagers have dropped out of the top 20 in reading,
maths and science. That's in a ranking of 65
economies from around the world. Media reactions were
predictable (worse than <em>Estonia?!</em>) and so were <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/01/michael-gove-labour-international-league-table">Michael Gove's</a>
(it's the last government's fault), but some were a little more
critical.<p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/leaning-tower-pisa-0" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/leaning-tower-pisa-0#commentsmathematics educationstatisticsThu, 05 Dec 2013 16:56:34 +0000mf3445990 at http://plus.maths.org/contentUnderstanding uncertainty: ESP and Bayes
http://plus.maths.org/content/understanding-uncertainty-esp-and-bayes
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Kevin McConway </div>
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<p>In the previous article we looked at a psychological study which claims to provide evidence that certain types of extra-sensory perception exist, using a statistical method called significance testing. But do the results of the study really justify this conclusion?</p>
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<div align="center" style="margin:auto;width:400px; font-size:15; border: #9a7a9f 2px solid; padding:5px;">This article has been adapted from material on the <a href="http://understandinguncertainty.org/node/1286">Understanding Uncertainty website</a>.</div> <p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/understanding-uncertainty-esp-and-bayes" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/understanding-uncertainty-esp-and-bayes#commentsbayes theoremconditional probabilityp-valueprobabilitypsychologysignificance teststatisticsunderstanding uncertaintyMon, 15 Oct 2012 15:48:39 +0000mf3445782 at http://plus.maths.org/contentUnderstanding uncertainty: ESP and the significance of significance
http://plus.maths.org/content/esp-and-significance-significance
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Kevin McConway </div>
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<p>In March 2011 a highly respected psychology journal published a paper claiming to provide evidence
for extra-sensory perception (ESP). The claim was based largely on the
results of a very common statistical procedure called significance testing. The experiments
provide an excellent way into looking at how significance testing
works and at what's problematic about it.</p> </div>
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<div align="center" style="margin:auto;width:400px; font-size:15; border: #9a7a9f 2px solid; padding:5px;">This article has been adapted from material on the <a href="http://understandinguncertainty.org/node/1286">Understanding Uncertainty website</a>.</div> <br />
<div class="rightimage" style="width: 313px"><img src="/sites/plus.maths.org/files/articles/2012/esp/psychic.jpg" alt="Psychic" width="313" height="238" />
<p>Is there such a thing as extra-sensory perception? Image: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PsychicBoston.jpg">Boston</a>.</p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/esp-and-significance-significance" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/esp-and-significance-significance#commentsp-valueprobabilitypsychologysignificance teststatisticsunderstanding uncertaintyMon, 15 Oct 2012 14:46:34 +0000mf3445781 at http://plus.maths.org/contentCounting deaths: war as a statistical problem
http://plus.maths.org/content/counting-dead-war-statistical-probelm
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<p>How many people died? It's one of the first questions asked in a war or violent conflict, but it's one of the hardest to answer. In the chaos of war many deaths go unrecorded and all sides have an interest in distorting the figures. The best we can do is come up with estimates, but the trouble is that different statistical methods for doing this can produce vastly different results . So how do we know how different methods compare?</p>
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How many people died? It's one of the first questions asked in a war
or violent conflict but it's one of the hardest to answer. In the chaos of war many deaths go unrecorded and all sides have an interest in
distorting the figures. </p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/counting-dead-war-statistical-probelm" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/counting-dead-war-statistical-probelm#commentsconfidence intervalstatisticssurveyuncertaintyThu, 23 Feb 2012 09:35:09 +0000mf3445666 at http://plus.maths.org/contentUnderstanding uncertainty: Visualising probabilities
http://plus.maths.org/content/understanding-uncertainty-visualising-probabilities
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Mike Pearson and Ian Short </div>
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<img class="imagefield imagefield-field_abs_img" width="100" height="100" alt="" src="http://plus.maths.org/content/sites/plus.maths.org/files/abstractpics/5/19_oct_2011_-_1700/icon_risk.jpg?1319040008" /> </div>
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<p>Probabilities and statistics: they are everywhere, but they are hard to understand and can be counter-intuitive. So what's the best way of communicating them to an audience that doesn't have the time, desire, or background to get stuck into the numbers? This article explores modern visualisation techniques and finds that the right picture really can be worth a thousand words.</p>
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<p><em>Probabilities and statistics: they are everywhere, but they are hard to understand and can be counter-intuitive. So what's the best way of communicating them to an audience that doesn't have the time, desire, or background to get stuck into the numbers? Ian Short explores modern visualisation techniques and finds that the right picture really can be worth a thousand words. </em></p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/understanding-uncertainty-visualising-probabilities" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/understanding-uncertainty-visualising-probabilities#commentsCMSprobabilityriskstatisticsuncertaintyunderstanding uncertaintyvisualisationMon, 31 Oct 2011 09:09:35 +0000mf3445572 at http://plus.maths.org/contentAnyone for tennis (and tennis and tennis...)?
http://plus.maths.org/content/anyone-tennis
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Mark A. Thomas </div>
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<p>As the Wimbledon 2011 Championships hove into view, memories will be reawakened of the match of epic proportions that took place last year between the American John Isner and the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut. So just how freaky was their titanic fifth set and what odds might a bookmaker offer for a repeat?</p>
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<p>Nicolas Mahut (left, image <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nicolas_Mahut_at_the_2009_Wimbledon_Championships_01.jpg">Bruno Girin</a>) and John Isner (right, image <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Isner_at_the_2009_US_Open_01.jpg">Charlie Cowens</a>).</p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/anyone-tennis" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/anyone-tennis#commentsbernoulli trialgeometric distributionmathematics in sportprobabilitystatisticsFri, 03 Jun 2011 09:10:47 +0000mf3445487 at http://plus.maths.org/contentMeasuring catastrophic risk
http://plus.maths.org/content/misinterpretation-risk-metrics
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Shane Latchman </div>
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<p>Insurance companies offer protection against rare but catastrophic events like hurricanes or earthquakes. But how do they work out the financial risks associated to these disasters? Shane Latchman investigates.</p>
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<h3>The notion of uncertainty</h3>
<p>In the early 19th century, the French mathematician <a href="http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Laplace.html">Pierre-Simon de Laplace</a> wrote of a concept he had been thinking about for some time. The concept became known as <em>Laplace's demon</em> and was a thought experiment which sought to clearly explain the existence of uncertainty. It is described in his <em>Essai Philosophique sur les Probabilités</em> (1814) as:
</p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/misinterpretation-risk-metrics" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/misinterpretation-risk-metrics#commentsconfidence intervalearthquakesinsurancemathematical modellingprobabilityriskrisk analysisstatisticsThu, 23 Dec 2010 14:36:31 +0000mf3445360 at http://plus.maths.org/contentHow to protect your privacy
http://plus.maths.org/content/how-protect-your-privacy
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<p>How would you feel if your private health record were revealed to insurance companies or prospective employers? These days our details are kept on all sorts of different databases and cleverly cross-referencing them can reveal intimate information about individuals. So what can be done to protect privacy? We talk to Cynthia Dwork from Microsoft Research, whose talk at the ICM showcased some mathematical tools to keep our details safe.</p><p><a href='http://plus.maths.org/content/sites/plus.maths.org/files/podcast/queries_0.mp3'>How to protect your privacy</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/how-protect-your-privacy#commentsrandomnessstatisticsTue, 24 Aug 2010 10:01:44 +0000mf3445292 at http://plus.maths.org/contentDo you know what's good for you - what's the best medicine?
http://plus.maths.org/content/do-you-know-whats-good-you-whats-best-medicine
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How do you judge the risks and benefits of new medical treatments, or of lifestyle choices? With a finite health care budget, how do you decide which treatments should be made freely available on the NHS? Historically, decisions like these have been made on the basis of doctors' individual experiences with how these treatments perform, but over recent decades the approach to answering these
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<p>How do you judge the risks and benefits of new medical treatments, or of lifestyle choices? With a finite health care budget, how do you decide which treatments should be made freely available on the NHS?<p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/do-you-know-whats-good-you-whats-best-medicine" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/do-you-know-whats-good-you-whats-best-medicine#commentsepidemiologymedical statisticsmedicine and healthstatisticsTue, 20 Jul 2010 15:55:17 +0000mf3445262 at http://plus.maths.org/contentClassroom activity: Matching criminals
http://plus.maths.org/content/classroom-activity-matching-criminals
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<div style="position: relative; left: 50%; width: 70%"><font size="2"><i>Back to the <a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/do-you-know-whats-good-you-unravelling-genetic-secrets">Unravelling genetic secrets package</a><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/classroom-activity-matching-criminals" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/classroom-activity-matching-criminals#commentsbirthday problemDNADNA evidenceGenesprobabilitystatisticsTue, 13 Jul 2010 11:21:06 +0000mf3445238 at http://plus.maths.org/contentCareer interview: Brazil correspondent, The Economist
http://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue55/interview/index
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Marianne Freiberger </div>
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<p>If you enjoy your regular dose of <i>Plus</i>, then let us introduce you to the person who's responsible for much of your pleasure. Helen Joyce was <i>Plus</i> Editor from 2002 to 2005 and her vision and pen shaped much of <i>Plus</i> as you see it today. These days Helen works as a journalist for <i>The Economist</i> and is shortly off to São Paulo for a stint as the paper's Brazil Bureau Chief. It's an open-ended assignment, but she expects to spend about four years there.<p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue55/interview/index" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue55/interview/index#comments55career interviewfractalHealth & Societymathematics in the mediastatisticsMon, 12 Jul 2010 15:24:58 +0000mf3445225 at http://plus.maths.org/contentIt's a match!
http://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue55/features/dnacourt/index
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Philip Dawid and Rachel Thomas </div>
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<p>"It's a match!" cries the CSI. At first glance it might seem that if the police have matched a suspect's DNA to evidence from the crime scene, then the case is closed. But some statistical thinking is required to understand exactly what a match is, and importantly, how juries should assess this as part of the evidence in a trial.</p>
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<p><br /><br /></p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue55/features/dnacourt/index" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue55/features/dnacourt/index#comments55bayes theoremDNADNA evidencedna profilestatisticsStatistics in courtMon, 12 Jul 2010 11:28:32 +0000mf3445222 at http://plus.maths.org/contentMaking sense of election statistics
http://plus.maths.org/content/os/latestnews/jan-apr10/electstats/index
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Tonight, in the final televised debate ahead of the election, the three main party leaders will talk about the economy, the recession, public sector debt, spending or cuts, and more. All will use statistics to back up their points or to pull apart their opponents' arguments. But how can we work out whether to believe the figures and what do they really mean?
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<p> </p><div class="rightimage" style="width: 350px;"><img src="/latestnews/jan-apr10/election/iStock_poll.jpg" alt="Polling station" width="350" height="263" /></div> <p>Tonight, in the final televised debate ahead of the election, the three main party leaders will talk about the economy, the recession, public sector debt, spending or cuts, and more. All will use statistics to back up their points or to pull apart their opponents' arguments. But how can we work out whether to believe the figures and what do they really mean?</p><p><a href="http://plus.maths.org/content/os/latestnews/jan-apr10/electstats/index" target="_blank">read more</a></p>http://plus.maths.org/content/os/latestnews/jan-apr10/electstats/index#commentselectionstatisticsWed, 28 Apr 2010 23:00:00 +0000mf3445232 at http://plus.maths.org/content