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Greg Fox

Statistics doesn't always click right away. It's a different way of looking at the world, and I learn something new every time I revisit a quality tool or quality analysis technique. Continue Reading »

Like many, my introduction to 17th-century French philosophy came at the tender age of 3+. For that is when I discovered the Etch-a-Sketch®, an entertaining ode to Descartes' coordinate plane. Little did I know that the seemingly idle hours I spent doodling on my Etch-a-Sketch would prove to be excellent training for the feat that I attempt today: plotting an Empirical Cumulative Distribution... Continue Reading
T'was the season for toys recently, and Christmas day found me playing around with a classic, the Etch-a-Sketch. As I noodled with the knobs, I had a sudden flash of recognition: my drawing reminded me of the Empirical CDF Plot in Minitab Statistical Software. Did you just ask, "What's a CDF plot? And what's so empirical about it?" Both very good questions. Let's start with the first, and we'll... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

Do you know how to avoid them?

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It's that time of year again. The time when eggs get nogged, pudding gets figgy, and it becomes socially acceptable to speak in rhyme. So on that note, and with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, I bring you this timely and heartfelt PSA. Enjoy. Twas the week before Christmas, and I couldn't be bothered, to make sure that our tree, had quite enough water."A sprinkling of needles on the carpet, I... Continue Reading
The season of change is upon us here at Minitab's World Headquarters. The air is crisp and clear and the landscape is ablaze in vibrant fall colors. As I drove to work one recent morning, I couldn't help but soak in the beauty surrounding me and think, "Too bad everything they taught me as a kid was a lie." You see, as a boy growing up in New Hampshire, I was told that the sublime beauty of autumn... Continue Reading
At the inaugural Minitab Insights Conference in September, presenters Benjamin Turcan and Jennifer Berner discussed how to present data effectively. Among the considerations they discussed was choosing the right graph. Different graphs are good for different things. Of course, opinions about which graph is best can, and do, differ. Dotplot devotees might decide that they are demonstrably... Continue Reading
No matter how experienced you are at analyzing data, communicating about your results can be a tremendous challenge. So it's not surprising that "Effectively Reporting Your Data Analysis" was one of the best-attended sessions at the inaugural Minitab Insights Conference last month.  The presenters, Benjamin Turcan and Jennifer Berner of First Niagara Bank, have a great deal of experience improving... Continue Reading
My recent beach vacation began with the kind of unfortunate incident that we all dread: killing a distant relative.   It was about 3 a.m. Me, my two sons, and our dog had been on the road since about 7 p.m. the previous day to get to our beach house on Plum Island, Massachusetts. Google maps said our exit was coming up and that we were only about 15 minutes away from our palace. Buoyed by that... Continue Reading
In my last post, we took the red pill and dove deep into the unarguably fascinating and uncompromisingly compelling world of the matrix plot. I've stuffed this post with information about a topic of marginal interest...the marginal plot. Margins are important. Back in my English composition days, I recall that margins were particularly prized for the inverse linear relationship they maintained with... Continue Reading
Remember the classic science fiction film The Matrix? The dark sunglasses, the leather, computer monitors constantly raining streams of integers (inexplicably in base 10 rather than binary or hexadecimal)? And that mind-blowing plot twist when Neo takes the red pill from Morpheus' outstretched hand? Well to me, there's one thing even more mind-blowing than the plot of the Matrix: the Matrix Plot.... Continue Reading
Once upon a time, when people wanted to compare the standard deviations of two samples, they had two handy tests available, the F-test and Levene's test. Statistical lore has it that the F-test is so named because it so frequently fails you.1 Although the F-test is suitable for data that are normally distributed, its sensitivity to departures from normality limits when and where it can be used. Leve... Continue Reading
People say that I overthink everything. I've given this assertion considerable thought, and I don't believe that it is true. After all, how can any one person possibly overthink every possible thing in just one lifetime? For example, suppose I live 85 years. That's 2,680,560,000 seconds (85 years x 365 days per year x 24 hours per day x 60 min per hour x 60 seconds per minute). I'm asleep about a... Continue Reading
Mind the gap. It's is an important concept to bear in mind whilst traveling on the Tube in London, the T in Boston, the Metro in Washington, D.C., etc. But how many of us remember to mind the gap when we create an interval plot in Minitab Statistical Software? Not too many of us, I'd wager. And it's a shame, too. When you travel on the subway, minding the gap means giving thoughtful consideration... Continue Reading
Unless you live under a black country rock, you’ve no doubt heard that the world recently lost one of the greatest artists of our time, David Bowie. My memories of the Thin White Duke go all the way back to my formative years. I recall his music echoing through the halls of our house as I crooned along whilst doing the chores. Then as now, Bowie’s creativity and energy inspired me and helped me do... Continue Reading
As you may know, we added Bubble Plots to Minitab's menu of meaningful graphs in Release 17. If you are familiar, I think you'll agree that Bubble Plots make a perfect addition to the pantheon of impressive and powerful plots that you can produce in Minitab. They’re great. Of course, they would have been even greater if they used my idea...but that’s spilt milk under the bridge now. If you haven’t... Continue Reading
At the end of my previous post, aspiring statisticians Woodrow "Woody" Stem and August "Russell" Leaf, creators of the famed Stem-and-Leaf plot, were in bad shape. They had beaten each other statsless after an argument about the challenge given to them by their mentor, Dr. Histeaux Graham. That challenge: to devise a simple, yet elegant way to examine the distribution of values in a sample. After... Continue Reading
Greetings fair reader. In the past, I've written several posts with practical tips related to Minitab graphs, such as: How to discuss the sensitive issue of P charts and Laney P' charts with your doctor How to use a G chart to monitor parenting success How to use a scatterplot to start your own doomsday cult In this post, I thought I'd take a step back and explore the historical side of Minitab's... Continue Reading
I have been riding my bike to work lately instead of taking my car. I figured I could use the exercise. I figured it would be good for my health. I figured it might help stave off global warming. I figured wrong.   I’ve noticed lately that the sky seems to get darker a little earlier every day. I asked my wife if she had noticed the same thing and she said, “When are going to take out that garbage... Continue Reading
My son goes to the same high school as infamous Aussie rocker Angus Young, from AC/DC. If the school provided any of the inspiration for songs like “Highway to Hell” and “Dirty Deeds Done at a Discount”, I think my son will learn a lot there. In fact, he might even learn that gambling doesn’t pay. On weekday mornings, I often walk my son to school and then hop a train into the city. As we’re... Continue Reading
The other day I was having lunch with a Minitab user. She asked if Minitab Statistical Software could calculate the number of business days between two dates, excluding weekends and holidays. “I’m not sure,” I said. “I’ll look into it." I am happy to report that Minitab can indeed do this. Which is good, because this would be a pretty disappointing blog post otherwise. It’s actually really easy,... Continue Reading
I have a 12-year-old son. This is not a unique condition. And you might think that I would be well prepared for the associated challenges, having been a 12-year-old son myself at one time. But you'd be wrong. Regular readers of the blog might recall that my family and I recently moved from rural Central Pennsylvania to urban Sydney, Australia for 6 months. My son wasn’t too keen on the idea... Continue Reading