Statistics: Unlocking the World of Data
Data is everywhere, from the media to the health sciences, and from financial forecasting to engineering design. It drives our decisions, and shapes our views and beliefs. But how can we make sense of it? This course introduces some of the key ideas and concepts of statistics, the discipline that allows us to analyse and interpret the data that underpins modern society. In this course, you will explore the key principles of statistics for yourself, using interactive applets, and you will learn to interpret and evaluate the data you encounter in everyday life. No previous knowledge of statistics is required, although familiarity with secondary school mathematics is advisable. Logo image: © The University of Edinburgh 2016 CC BY, derived from Waverley Bridge, by Manuel Farnlack on Flickr, 2010 CC BY Syllabus Week 1: Introducing Data What is statistics? We begin the course with this question, and see how data lies at the heart of statistics. We look at common techniques for presenting and summarising data. Week 2: Patterns in Data We look further into the science of data analysis, focusing on finding and interpreting relationships between different data sets, and on using trends in data to make predictions. Week 3: Collecting Data We look at key methods of data collection, seeing how we generally use samples of a population to make predictions about the whole population. We learn about how to choose a representative sample, and how to set up a statistical experiment. Week 4: Uncertainty in Data Using samples to make predictions about a population brings uncertainty into our data. As the study of risk and uncertainty, probability is therefore key to understanding statistics. We build up the knowledge and understanding needed to study deeper statistical methods. Week 5: Understanding Uncertainty We apply the ideas about uncertainty that we have learnt in real-life situations in order to gain an understanding of data and the systems that generate it. Week 6: Statistical Testing We introduce the testing method that is fundamental to all of science: the hypothesis test. We learn how to set up and perform a hypothesis test, and look at how such tests are used in scientific research.
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