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Statistics 131A: General Information

Statistics 131A: Fall 2003

Course Description

Statistics 131A is an introductory statistics course targeted for Social and Life Sciences. It is not very mathematical (compared with other Statistics courses). Neither linear algebra nor calculus is required. However, you need to be comfortable with math at the level of high-school algebra (e.g., equation of a straight line, plotting points, taking powers and roots, percentages). The emphasis of the course is critical thinking about numerical evidence. Topics include descriptive statistics, correlation and regression, elements of probability, elementary symbolic logic, chance variability, random variables, expectation, standard error, sampling, and hypothesis tests, confidence intervals, experiments and observational studies, as well as common techniques of presenting data in misleading ways.

The course uses the internet to distribute information and provide interactive exercises and examples. Assignments, the text book, and scores on assignments and exams are online. You will need to use a recent version of a web browser such as Netscape 6 or Internet Explorer 6 to take the class. Netscape 6.0 and 6.1 will not work with these materials, nor will the AOL browser.

To add the course, get on the telebears waiting list, attend the section you would like to be in, and submit the first assignment on time.

Required Text: SticiGui Online Text. The online version is free. A printed copy can be ordered from Copy Central on the north side of campus (Hearst). The printed copy does not have all the functionality of the online version. You will still need to have internet access to read the online text and to do the problem sets. Printing the book from the website yourself is a violation of copyright---don't do it. Moreover, if you figure that it will cost you about $0.05 per page to print, it won't save you much either--the book is about 400 pages long.

Recommended Texts:

Midterm: There will be one midterm, on Thursday, 9 October, during class. No alternate time will be offered. Practice materials are available online. The exam is multiple choice, and you must bring a scantron form (100 question form), a number 2 pencil, and a photo ID. You may bring a calculator if you wish.

Final Exam: Group 5, Thursday 12/11/03 12:30-3:30pm. Room will be announced. No alternate time will be offered; don't ask. If you cannot attend the final, do not take the class. The final is cumulative. Practice materials are available online. The exam is multiple choice, and you must bring a scantron form (100 question form), a number 2 pencil, and a photo ID. You may bring a calculator if you wish.

Homework is due as posted online. Check due dates frequently. No late homework will be accepted, for any reason, including, but not limited to, internet congestion, system crashes, natural disasters, theft, and your pet's dietary idiosyncrasies. Don't ask. The longer you wait to do the homework, the larger the risk that server or internet traffic will delay your submission. The four lowest homework scores are dropped, to allow for the possibility that technical problems prevent you from submitting homework on time.

Grading is based on the average of homework, midterm, and final, with equal weight, or the final by itself, if the final grade is higher. Each homework assignment can be submitted up to five times before the due date. The last submission of each assignment is the one that counts. The overall homework score is based on the number of assignments on which you score 85% or higher. I expect to grade as follows, but I might need to revise the plan, especially if we do not cover all the material:

Assignments with
over 85% correct
Overall homework

Sometimes I subtract "demerits" for violating class policy. Demerits are subtracted from the course grade. Sometimes I offer extra credit; extra credit is added to the course grade. Grades will not be "curved," so you are not in competition with anyone else. My usual grading scheme is approximately as follows, but it can vary:

99+ 93-98 90-92 87-89 83-86 80-82 77-79 73-76 70-72 67-69 63-66 60-62 <60
A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D D- F

It is possible for everyone to make an A (or an F). Grades on assignments and exams and the course grade will be available online. Sending me email with questions about the grading scheme will result in a lower grade.

Friendly advice

Do the reading assignment before lectures. You will get more from both the text and the lectures. Try to solve all exercises in each chapter: some show up on exams. Read all homework and exam questions carefully, and take them literally--don't try to second-guess what is meant. Come to office hours. Check the announcements at least twice a week.

Come to class: even though attendance at lectures is not required, things happen in class that are not in the book and that are not announced on the website. You will miss out if you don't come.

Email Policy and a Warning

Most general questions about the course have answers in this page, the syllabus, or the class announcements. Send me email only to report a typo in the text or a bug in the text. I will reduce your grade if you send me email for any other reason. For any other information or special requests (such as accommodating a learning disablility),

  1. go to my office hours
  2. approach me before or after class, or during the in-class break
  3. email your TA
  4. ask your TA before, during, or after section
  5. go to TA office hours. You can go to the office hours of any Statistics 131A TA, not just the TA for your section; indeed, TAs from other courses will help you if they have time.
  6. post a message to the class bulletin board

Bug and typo reports

I am very grateful to be told about bugs and typos by email. An error message caused by your failure to follow directions is not a bug. I am unlikely to be able to determine the cause of apparent malfunctions unless you tell me

  1. your student ID number
  2. the browser you are using (Netscape or Internet Explorer), including the version
  3. the operating system you are using (Mac, Windows, unix, linux), including the version
  4. the type of computer you are using
  5. the amount of memory (RAM) the computer has (usually measured in megabytes, Mb)
  6. the kind of CPU your computer has (Pentium II, PowerPC, SPARC III, etc.)
  7. the number of browser windows you had open when the problem occurred
  8. a precise description of what you were doing when the problem occurred
  9. a precise description of the symptom, including the wording of any error message you received
  10. your method of connecting to the internet (dial-up to UCB, other dial-up, DSL, cable modem, ethernet to campus, direct campus connection, ...)
  11. the time and date when the problem occurred.

Before you conclude that unexpected results are caused by a bug,

  1. Make sure you are using a compatible version of the browser (Netscape 4.51-4.78 or Internet Explorer 4.01 SP1 or higher).
  2. Make sure your browser has JavaScript, Java, and cookies enabled. In internet Explorer 5.5, you do this from the Tools->Internet Options->Security->Custom menu. In Netscape 4.78, you do this from the Edit->Preferences->Advanced menu. Tic the appropriate boxes. I recommend that you accept only cookies that get sent back to the originating server, and that you disable JavaScript for mail and news. In Internet Explorer, allow scripting of Java applets.
  3. Try a "hard reload:" hold down the shift key while reloading the page.
  4. Clear the browser's cache. In Netscape, this is in the Edit->Preferences->Advanced->Cache menu (delete the memory cache and the disk cache; while you have this menu open, it is a good idea to tic the box that says "document in cache is compared to document on network once per session"). In Internet Explorer 5.5, this is called deleting the "temporary internet files," which one does in the Tools->Internet Options->General menu.
  5. Try restarting the browser after clearing its cache.
  6. Try restarting the computer.
  7. If the problem is that you cannot access a problem set,
  8. If the problem is that applets display incorrectly, try turning off all graphics acceleration.

Tutors and other support

Outside tutors: the Statistics Department has a list of people who have offered to tutor introductory statistics. The Department does not vouch for the proficiency of the tutors, and makes no recommendation, but keeps a list as a service to students. The Student Learning Center also offers extra help in introductory statistics classes.

Teaching Assistants

The Statistics Department TA office is staffed throughout the day, and TAs from other classes can help you with some problems if they are not too busy with students from their courses. Here are the office hours for the TAs for this class:

TA Office Hours email
Chinghway Lim F 10-12, 383 Evans


Section Time Place TA
103 WF 3-4P 332 EVANS Chinghway Lim
112 MW 12-1P 340 EVANS Chinghway Lim