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Eric Heckman

Statistics and statistical software present a real challenge, especially if you're unfamiliar with them. I'll show you some of the basics, and answer questions from Minitab’s tech support desk. Continue Reading »

In my time at Minitab, I’ve gotten a good understanding of what types of graphs users create. Everyone knows about histograms, bar charts, and time series plots. Even relatively less familiar plots like the interval plot and individual value plot are still used quite often. However, one of the most underutilized graphs we have available is the area graph. If you’re not familiar with an Area... Continue Reading
Often, when we start analyzing new data, one of the very first things we look at is whether certain pairs of variables are correlated. Correlation can tell if two variables have a linear relationship, and the strength of that relationship. This makes sense as a starting point, since we're usually looking for relationships and correlation is an easy way to get a quick handle on the data set we're... Continue Reading

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Last Tuesday Night, Major League Baseball announced the rosters for tomorrow's All-Star game in San Diego. Immediately, as I'm sure was anticipated, people began talking about who made it and who didn't. Who got left out, and who shouldn't have made it. As a fun little exercise, I decided to take a visual look at the all-star teams, to see what kind of players were selected. I looked at position... Continue Reading
Time series data is proving to be very useful these days in a number of different industries. However, fitting a specific model is not always a straightforward process. It requires a good look at the series in question, and possibly trying several different models before identifying the best one. So how do we get there? In this post, I'll take a look at how we can examine our data and get a feel... Continue Reading
Among the most underutilized statistical tools in Minitab, and I think in general, are multivariate tools. Minitab offers a number of different multivariate tools, including principal component analysis, factor analysis, clustering, and more. In this post, my goal is to give you a better understanding of the multivariate tool called discriminant analysis, and how it can be used. Discriminant... Continue Reading
Depending on how often and when you use statistical software like Minitab, there may be specific tools or a group of tools you find yourself using over and over again. You may have to do a monthly report, for instance, for which you use one tool in our Basic Statistics menu, another in Quality Tools, and a third in Regression.  But there are a lot of functions and capabilities in our software, and... Continue Reading
When you analyze a Gage R&R study in statistical software, your results can be overwhelming. There are a lot of statistics listed in Minitab's Session Window—what do they all mean, and are they telling you the same thing? If you don't know where to start, it can be hard to figure out what the analysis is telling you, especially if your measurement system is giving you some numbers you'd think are... Continue Reading
When running a binary logistic regression and many other analyses in Minitab, we estimate parameters for a specified model based on the sample data that has been collected. Most of the time, we use what is called Maximum Likelihood Estimation. However, based on specifics within your data, sometimes these estimation methods fail. What happens then? Specifically, during binary logistic regression, an... Continue Reading
When you run a regression in Minitab, you receive a huge batch of output, and often it can be hard to know where to start. A lot of times, we get overwhelmed and just go straight to p-values, ignoring a lot of valuable information in the process. This post will give you an introduction to one of the other statistics Minitab displays for you, the VIF, or Variance Inflation Factor.  To start, let's... Continue Reading
Over the past few years, the average length of an MLB game has been steadily increasing. We can create a quick time series plot in Minitab Statistical Software to display this: As games have been lasting longer, there's been a feeling shared by many that this was a negative. Games seemed to drag on, with a lot of unnecessary stoppages and breaks. To combat this trend, and to try to speed up games to... Continue Reading
In England, with only a few months left, the Barclay’s Premier League is about to enter the final run in to finish up the season. While the top two spots seem pretty locked up with Chelsea and Manchester City showing their class, the fight for the other two spots in the coveted top 4 promises to entertain to the very last weekend. This is key, because only the top 4 finishers qualify for next... Continue Reading
  In my experience, one of the hardest concepts for users to wrap their head around revolves around the Power and Sample Size menu in Minitab's statistical software, and more specifically, the field that asks for the "difference" or "difference to detect."  Let’s start with power. In statistics, the definition of power is the probability that you will correctly reject the null hypothesis when it is... Continue Reading
Last time, we went over Bar Charts you could create from Counts of Unique Values. However, sometimes you want to convey more information than just simple counts. For example, you could have a number of parts from different models. The number of occurrences themselves don't offer much value, so you may want a chart displaying the means, sums, or even standard deviations of the different parts.... Continue Reading
Whether you’re just learning statistics or you're already using data analysis on the job, there are not many tools more straightforward than a bar chart. Bar charts are effective at getting across their message, and are used in a diverse number of fields, from service quality to pharmaceuticals to manufacturing. However, I’ve noticed recently that a lot of customers looking to create a bar chart... Continue Reading
When you're evaluating a dataset, graphical analysis can be very important. While an analysis like a regression or ANOVA can be backed up by numbers, being able to visualize how your dataset is behaving can be even more convincing than a group of p-values—especially to those who aren’t trained in statistics. For example, let’s look at a few variables we think may be correlated. In this specific... Continue Reading
When looking at a control chart, it’s important to know that the data we are looking at is accurate. Let’s face it, if the control limits we are looking at don’t really reflect what’s actually happening in our process, what does it matter if our points fall within the limits, or a little bit outside? Let’s take a trip down to the widget factory, where widgets are being produced in all shapes and... Continue Reading
Here at the lightsaber factory, we've completed several steps in doing a capability analysis: We made sure our data was collected and entered correctly in Minitab We identified the distribution of the data We made sure all of our assumptions checked out We’re getting close to our deadline, and it’s finally time to carry out our Capability Analysis and see if we are manufacturing our lightsabers to... Continue Reading
In my last post, we talked about using statistical tools to identify the right distribution of our lightsaber manufacturing data. Now that we have our data in Minitab along with a specific distribution picked out, we can find out if we are dealing with an in-control process. If the process is not in control, the capability estimates will be incorrect. Thus, an extremely important (and often... Continue Reading
In my previous post, you learned how to prepare your data for capability analysis in Minitab. Now let's see where we need to go in the statistical software to run the correct Capability Analysis. When it comes to capability analysis, Minitab offers a few different choices. We offer Normal Capability Analysis for when your data follow a normal distribution. If your data follow a different... Continue Reading
It's your first day at the Jedi Temple, working as a lightsaber manufacturer. Your first task on the job is to run a Capability Analysis on the length of lightsabers being produced. Your main concern is to see if the lightsabers fit within the required length specifications set forth by the Jedi Council. You aren’t quite sure where to start. Thankfully, Minitab Statistical Softwareis there to help... Continue Reading