Blog Archives

Monty Hall by simulation in R

February 3, 2012
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Monty Hall by simulation in R

(Almost) every introductory course in probability introduces conditional probability using the famous Monte Hall problem. In a nutshell, the problem is one of deciding on a best strategy in a simple game. In the game, the contestant is asked to select one of three doors. Behind one of the doors is a great prize (free

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Uncertainty in markov chains: fun with snakes and ladders

December 31, 2011
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Uncertainty in markov chains: fun with snakes and ladders

I love board games. Over the holidays, I came across this interesting post over at Arthur Charpentier’s Freakonometrics blog about the classic game of snakes and ladders. The post is a nice little demonstration of how the game can be formulated completely as a Markov chain, and can be analysed simply using the mathematics of

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Visualizing Sampling Distributions

September 25, 2011
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Visualizing Sampling Distributions

Teacher: “How variable is your estimate of the mean?” Student: “Uhhh, it’s not. I took a sample and calculated the sample mean. I only have one number.” Teacher: “Yes, but what is the standard deviation of sample means?” Student: “What do you mean means, I only have the one friggin number.” Statisticians have a habit

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Visualizing Bayesian Updating

September 10, 2011
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Visualizing Bayesian Updating

One of the most straightforward examples of how we use Bayes to update our beliefs as we acquire more information can be seen with a simple Bernoulli process. That is, a process which has only two  possible outcomes. Probably the most commonly thought of example is that of a coin toss. The outcome of tossing

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Real-time data collection and analysis in class

August 28, 2011
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Real-time data collection and analysis in class

As September draws nearer, my mind inevitably turns away from my lofty (and largely unmet) summer research goals, and toward teaching.  This semester I will be trying out a teaching technique using live data collection and analysis as a tool to encourage student engagement.  The idea is based on the electronic polling technology known as

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Using simulation to demonstrate theory: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

June 13, 2011
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Using simulation to demonstrate theory: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

One of my teaching roles is in an introductory Genetics course, where first year students are presented with a wide range of new ideas at a relatively fast pace.  It seems that often, students choose to take a memorization approach to learning the material, rather than taking the chance to think about how and why

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