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Stats

Blog posts and articles about statistics principles and how they apply to quality improvement methods like Lean and Six Sigma.

Just 100 years ago, very few statistical tools were available and the field was largely unknown. Since then, there has been an explosion of tools available, as well as ever-increasing awareness and use of statistics.   While most readers of the Minitab Blog are looking to pick up new tools or improve their use of commonly-applied ones, I thought it would be worth stepping back and talking about one... Continue Reading
Last month the ESPN series Outside the Lines reported on major league pitchers suffering serious injuries from being struck in the head by line drives, and efforts MLB is making towards having protective gear developed for pitchers. You can view the report here if you'd like: A couple of things jump out at me from the clip: The overwhelming majority of pitchers are not interested in wearing... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

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In Minitab Statistical Software, putting a regression line on a scatterplot is as easy as choosing a picture with a regression line on a scatterplot: A neat trick is that you can also add calculated lines onto a scatterplot for comparison or other communication purposes. Here’s a demonstration. United States Sentencing Guidelines The United States Sentencing Guidelines say how people who... Continue Reading
In my previous post, I showed you that the coefficients are different when choosing (-1,0,1) vs (1,0) coding schemes for General Linear Model (or Regression).  We used the two different equations to calculate the same fitted values. Here I will focus on showing what the different coefficients represent.  Let's use the data and models from the last blog post: We can display the means for each level... Continue Reading
Since Minitab 17 Statistical Software launched in February 2014, we've gotten great feedback from many people have been using the General Linear Model and Regression tools. But in speaking with people as part of Minitab's Technical Support team, I've found many are noticing that there are two coding schemes available with each. We frequently get calls from people asking how the coding scheme you... Continue Reading
In my previous post, I wrote about the hypothesis testing ban in the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology. I showed how P values and confidence intervals provide important information that descriptive statistics alone don’t provide. In this post, I'll cover the editors’ concerns about hypothesis testing and how to avoid the problems they describe. The editors describe hypothesis testing... Continue Reading
In previous posts, I discussed the results of a recycling project done by Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology last spring. (If you’re playing catch up, you can read Part I and Part II.) The students did an awesome job reducing the amount of recycling that was thrown into the normal trash cans across all of the institution’s academic buildings. At the end of the spring... Continue Reading
Banned! In February 2015, editor David Trafimow and associate editor Michael Marks of the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology declared that the null hypothesis statistical testing procedure is invalid. They promptly banned P values, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing from the journal. The journal now requires descriptive statistics and effect sizes. They also encourage large... Continue Reading
In this series of posts, I show how hypothesis tests and confidence intervals work by focusing on concepts and graphs rather than equations and numbers.   Previously, I used graphs to show what statistical significance really means. In this post, I’ll explain both confidence intervals and confidence levels, and how they’re closely related to P values and significance levels. How to Correctly... Continue Reading
Imagine that you are watching a race and that you are located close to the finish line. When the first and fastest runners complete the race, the differences in times between them will probably be quite small. Now wait until the last runners arrive and consider their finishing times. For these slowest runners, the differences in completion times will be extremely large. This is due to the fact that... Continue Reading
Monte Carlo simulation has all kinds of useful manufacturing applications. And - in celebration of Pi Day - I thought it would be apropos to show how you can even use Monte Carlo simulation to estimate pi, which of course is the mathematical constant that represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. For our example, let’s start with a circle of radius 1 inscribed within a... Continue Reading
What do significance levels and P values mean in hypothesis tests? What is statistical significance anyway? In this post, I’ll continue to focus on concepts and graphs to help you gain a more intuitive understanding of how hypothesis tests work in statistics. To bring it to life, I’ll add the significance level and P value to the graph in my previous post in order to perform a graphical version of... 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
I am M. G - L - M. That G - L - M! That G - L - M! I do not like That G - L - M. Do you like Means and histograms? I do not like them, G - L - M. I do not like Means and histograms. Would you like them Halved or squared? Would you like them As a pair? I would not like them Halved or squared. I would not like them As a pair. I do not like Means and histograms. I do not like them, G - L - M. Would you like... Continue Reading
Hypothesis testing is an essential procedure in statistics. A hypothesis test evaluates two mutually exclusive statements about a population to determine which statement is best supported by the sample data. When we say that a finding is statistically significant, it’s thanks to a hypothesis test. How do these tests really work and what does statistical significance actually mean? In this series of... Continue Reading
Many things have shocked me since having my first baby back in August. I didn’t think it was possible to be so tired that it actually hurt, and I also didn’t think that changing 10+ diapers a day would actually be the norm (or that needing to perform 10+ outfit changes was even possible, let alone necessary). I also didn’t think that we’d fall in love so hard with the little guy. What a wonderful,... 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
In my recent meetings with people from various companies in the service industries, I realized that one of the problems they face is that they were collecting large amounts of "qualitative" data: types of product, customer profiles, different subsidiaries, several customer requirements, etc. As I discussed in my previous post, one way to look at qualitative data is to use different types of... Continue Reading
In several previous blogs, I have discussed the use of statistics for quality improvement in the service sector. Understandably, services account for a very large part of the economy. Lately, when meeting with several people from financial companies, I realized that one of the problems they faced was that they were collecting large amounts of "qualitative" data: types of product, customer... Continue Reading
On a recent vacation, I was unsuccessfully trying to reunite with my family outside a busy shopping mall and starting to get a little stressed. I was on a crowded sidewalk, in a busy city known for crime, and it was raining.  I thought there was no way things could get more aggravating when something warm and solid hit my arm and shirt. A bird had pooped on me. Not having the kids with me, and being... Continue Reading