STAT 157: Administration and deadlines

Instructor: David Aldous

GSI None.

Class time: TuTh 2.00-3.30 in room 330 Evans.

Office Hours Wednesdays 9.30 - 11.30 in 351 Evans.

email (put "STAT 157" in subject)


In lectures I will treat about 20 different topics, these topics chosen to illustrate the diversity of contexts where probability arises.

Reading/talk project

You can talk about anything within the very broad "probability in the real world" theme. If you can choose by yourself what to talk on, please do. If you want suggestions, start by reading something -- browse the online resources and the book list -- on the general "probability in the real world". Choose one interesting idea from what you've read. Almost surely the idea wasn't original to the particular author you're reading; so dig deeper into the background -- what actual published evidence is there for the asserted fact? Plan a 6 minute talk to the class -- what is the idea and what evidence is there for its correctness? You'll want to write out and practice your talk (and carefully check the 6-minute time), but you don't need to hand in the write-up. Maybe helpful to imagine you're doing a 6 minute slot on a PBS television science program. This should be a "chalk talk" not a laptop presentation. If you want to make a handout of data, graphics etc, then e-mail to me 1 day in advance and I will make copies for the class.

Deadline for giving me a title is Sunday September 17. If you want help in choosing a topic, visit me during office hours or make appointment.

Students will be asked to give brief comments on other students' talks, so check these criteria. You can also see the summary comments from the 2016 course.

Creativity clause

In both the reading project and the course project I intend to be flexible and to encourage creativity in project choice. If you want to do something in a different style than suggested here, come talk to me and I'll probably allow it.

Course project: content

An ideal project takes some piece of theory which uses probability to make predictions about something in the real world, and then gets "new data" to test the theory. Here "new" means "not used for the same purpose before"; it might be collected by the student or it might be out there on the Internet for some other reason. Reading material from the online resources is a good way to start thinking about a topic; and check my list of some possible course projects.

You must talk to me about your course project by Friday 13 October. The sooner the better! Best to come after you have thought of an outline but before you have spent too much time working on it. If you can't get started, come to me for ideas. As well as office hours, you can schedule an appointment with me at some other time.

Yes, you may collaborate on projects. But I expect a 3-person team to do 3 times as much!

Course Project: format

You present the project as both For the in-class presentation you may (if you wish) use a laptop. Or you may do a chalk talk (in which case, if you want to make a handout of data, graphics etc, then e-mail to me 1 day in advance and I will make copies for the class. But don't copy a complete write-up).

The write-up should be in usual "term paper" form -- that is, grammatical English sentences not Powerpoint slides. But I'm looking for clear exposition rather than a literary masterpiece. Email the write-up to me as PDF. I will post a few of the best write-ups on the course web site -- see this page for old ones.


Based (a little) on class attendance and reading project, but mainly on course project.