Statistics Online

Blog posts and articles that offer tips about statistics and analyzing data for quality improvement.

September 17 marked the release of new information from the American Community Survey (ACS) from the U.S. Census Bureau. Here’s a bar chart of what the press releases looked like for that day: Clearly there was a theme in play, one that was great news for major metropolitan areas. The Census Bureau even released a graph showing that the percentage of people within the 25 most populous metropolitan... Continue Reading
When I started out on the blog, I spent some time showing some data sets that would be easy to illustrate statistical concepts. It’s easier to show someone how something works with something familiar than with something they’ve never thought about before. Need a quick illustration to share with someone about how to summarize a variable in Minitab? See if they have a magazine on their desk, and... Continue Reading
Ever use dental floss to cut soft cheese? Or Alka Seltzer to clean your toilet bowl? You can find a host of nonconventional uses for ordinary objects online. Some are more peculiar than others. Ever use ordinary linear regression to evaluate a response (outcome) variable of counts?  Technically, ordinary linear regression was designed to evaluate a a continuous response variable. A continuous... Continue Reading
Every now and then I’ll test my Internet speed at home using such sites as http://speedtest.comcast.net  or http://www.att.com/speedtest/.  My need to perform these tests could stem from the cool-looking interfaces they employ on their site, as they display the results using analog speedometers and RPM meters. They could also stem from the validation that I need in "getting what I am paying for,"... Continue Reading
I've never understood the fascination with selfies. Maybe it's because I'm over 50. After surviving the slings and arrows of a half a century on Earth, the minute or two I spend in front of the bathroom mirror each morning is more than enough selfie time for me. Still, when I heard that Microsoft had an online app that estimates the age of any face on a photo, I was intrigued. How would the app... Continue Reading
Our vacation planning has begun. My daughter has requested a trip to Disney World as her high school graduation present. For most people, trip planning might mean a simple phone call to the local travel agent or an even simpler do-it-yourself online booking. Not for me. As a statistician, a request like this means I’ve got a lot of data analysis ahead. So many travel questions require (in my... Continue Reading
Right now I’m enjoying my daily dose of morning joe. As the steam rises off the cup, the dark rich liquid triggers a powerful enzyme cascade that jump-starts my brain and central nervous system, delivering potent glints of perspicacity into the dark crevices of my still-dormant consciousness. Feels good, yeah! But is it good for me? Let’s see what the studies say… Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee... Continue Reading
Sure, Minitab Statistical Software is powerful and easy to use, but did you know that it’s also magic? One of the illusions that Minitab can perform is the world famous disappearing-reappearing-analysis-settings act. Of course, as with many illusions, it’s not so hard once you know the trick. In this case, it’s downright easy once you know about Minitab project files. If you’ve done any work in... Continue Reading
A few weeks ago my colleague Cody Steele illustrated how the same set of data can appear to support two contradictory positions. He showed how changing the scale of a graph that displays mean and median household income over time drastically alters the way it can be interpreted, even though there's no change in the data being presented. When we analyze data, we need to present the results in... Continue Reading
You need to consider many factors when you’re buying a used car. Once you narrow your choice down to a particular car model, you can get a wealth of information about individual cars on the market through the Internet. How do you navigate through it all to find the best deal?  By analyzing the data you have available.   Let's look at how this works using the Assistant in Minitab 17. With the... Continue Reading
"He looks just like his father...and mother!" Popular morphing sites online let you visualize the hypothetical offspring of some very unlikely couples. The baby of Albert Einstein and Kim Kardashian (Kimbert?) would presumably look something like the image shown at right. What happens if you morph the features of two different graphs? For example, what would the baby of a time series plot and... Continue Reading
The 2014-15 NFL season is only days away, and fans all over the country are planning their fall weekends accordingly. In this post, I'm going to use data analysis to answer some questions related to ticket prices, such as: Which team is the least/most expensive to watch at home?  Which team is the least/most expensive to watch on the road?  If you are thinking of a road trip, which stadiums offer... Continue Reading
I caught the end of Toy Story over the weekend, which is definitely one of my all-time favorite children’s movies. Now—unfortunately or fortunately—I can’t get Randy Newman's theme song,“You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” out of my head! It's also got me thinking about the nature of friendship, and how "best friends forever" are supposed to always be there when you need them. And, not to get too maudlin... Continue Reading
by Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger  I told a friend about my interest in statistics, and he immediately told me a joke about broiled chicken and statistics. The punch line involved my friend getting to eat all the chicken. Unfortunately, I forgot the rest of the joke. I can, however, assure you it was a very funny statistics-related joke. People often make jokes when I mention my interest... Continue Reading
by Matthew Barsalou, guest blogger Programs such as the Minitab Statistical Software make hypothesis testing easier; but no program can think for the experimenter. Anybody performing a statistical hypothesis test must understand what p values mean in regards to their statistical results as well as potential limitations of statistical hypothesis testing. A p value of 0.05 is frequently used during... Continue Reading
These days, my memory isn't what it used to be. Besides that, my memory isn't what it used to be.  But my incurable case of CRS (Can't Remember Stuff) is not nearly as bad as that of the exponential distribution. When modelling failure data for reliability analysis, the exponential distribution is completely memoryless. It retains no record of the previous failure of an item. That might sound like a... Continue Reading
A colleague of mine at Minitab, Cheryl Pammer, was recently featured in "A Statistician's Journey," a monthly feature that appears in the print and online versions of the American Statistical Association's AMSTAT News magazine.   Each month, the magazine asks ASA members to talk about the paths they took to get to where they are today. Cheryl is a "user experience designer" at Minitab. In other... Continue Reading
Two weeks ago Penn State and Michigan played in a quadruple-overtime thriller that almost went into a 5th overtime. Had Penn State coach Bill O’Brien kicked a field goal in the 4th overtime instead of going for it on 4th and 1, the game would have continued. But the Nittany Lions converted the 4th down (which, by the way, wasn’t a gamble) and went on to score the game winning touchdown in the 4th... Continue Reading
In my home, we’re huge fans of Mythbusters, the show on Discovery Channel. This fun show mixes science and experiments to prove or disprove various myths, urban legends, and popular beliefs. It’s a great show because it brings the scientific method to life. I’ve written about Mythbusters before to show how, without proper statistical analysis, it’s difficult to know when a result is statistically... Continue Reading