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Eston Martz

I’m not a “math” person, but I've overcome fear of statistics and acquired a real passion for it. And if I can learn to understand and apply statistics, so can you. Continue Reading »

Over the past year I've been able to work with and learn from practitioners and experts who are using data analysis and Six Sigma to improve the quality of healthcare, both in terms of operational efficiency and better patient outcomes. I've been struck by how frequently a very basic analysis can lead to remarkable improvements, but some insights cannot be attained without conducting more... Continue Reading
There has been plenty of noisy disagreement about the state of health care in the past several years, but when you get beyond the controversies surrounding various programs and changes, a great deal of common ground exists. Everyone agrees that there's a lot of waste and inefficiency in the way we've been doing things, and that health care should be delivered as efficiently and effectively as... Continue Reading

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If you want to convince someone that at least a basic understanding of statistics is an essential life skill, bring up the case of Lucia de Berk. Hers is a story that's too awful to be true—except that it is completely true. A flawed analysis irrevocably altered de Berk's life and kept her behind bars for five years, and the fact that this analysis targeted and harmed just one person makes it more... Continue Reading
In an earlier post, I shared an overview of acceptance sampling, a method that lets you evaluate a sample of items from a larger batch of products (for instance, electronics components you've sourced from a new supplier) and use that sample to decide whether or not you should accept or reject the entire shipment.  There are two approaches to acceptance sampling. If you do it by attributes, you... Continue Reading
Now that we've seen how easy it is to create plans for acceptance sampling by variables, and to compare different sampling plans, it's time to see how to actually analyze the data you collect when you follow the sampling plan.  If you'd like to follow along and you're not already using Minitab, please download the free 30-day trial.  Collecting the Data for Acceptance Sampling by Variable If you'll... Continue Reading
In my last post, I showed how to use Minitab Statistical Software to create an acceptance sampling plan by variables, using the scenario of a an electronics company that receives monthly shipments of LEDs that must have soldering leads that are at least 2 cm long. This time, we'll compare that plan with some other possible options.  The variables sampling plan we came up with to verify the... Continue Reading
Earlier, I shared an overview of acceptance sampling. Now we'll look at how to do acceptance sampling by variables, facilitated by the tools in Minitab Statistical Software. If you're not already using it and you'd like to follow along, you can get the free 30-day trial version.  In contrast to acceptance sampling by attributes, where inspectors make judgment calls about defective items,... Continue Reading
If you're just getting started in the world of quality improvement, or if you find yourself in a position where you suddenly need to evaluate the quality of incoming or outgoing products from your company, you may have encountered the term "acceptance sampling." It's a statistical method for evaluating the quality of a large batch of materials from a small sample of items, which statistical softwar... Continue Reading
Many of us have data stored in a database or file that we need to analyze on a regular basis. If you're in that situation and you're using Minitab Statistical Software, here's how you can save some time and effort by automating the process. When you're finished, instead of using File > Query Database (ODBC) each time you want to perform analysis on the most up-to-date set of data, you can add a... Continue Reading
When you work in data analysis, you quickly discover an irrefutable fact: a lot of people just can't stand statistics. Some people fear the math, some fear what the data might reveal, some people find it deadly dull, and others think it's bunk. Many don't even really know why they hate statistics—they just do. Always have, probably always will.  Problem is, that means we who analyze data need to com... Continue Reading
Not long ago, I couldn’t abide statistics. I did respect it, but in much the same way a gazelle respects a lion. Most of my early experiences with statistics indicated that close encounters resulted in pain, so I avoided further contact whenever possible. So how is it that today I write about statistics? That’s simple: it merely required completely reinventing the way I thought about and approached... Continue Reading
P-values are frequently misinterpreted, which causes many problems. I won't rehash those problems here here since my colleague Jim Frost has detailed the issues involved at some length, but the fact remains that the p-value will continue to be one of the most frequently used tools for deciding if a result is statistically significant.  You know the old saw about "Lies, damned lies, and... Continue Reading
This week is the annual Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, a period where we are encouraged to eat turkey and cranberries, then consider the blessings in our lives before falling into a comfortable pre-football nap. That includes many of us here at Minitab.  Consequently, we won't have new posts for you over the next two days.  But one of the things I'm grateful for is having had the... Continue Reading
Easy access to the right tools makes any task easier. That simple idea has made the Swiss Army knife essential for adventurers: just one item in your pocket gives you instant access to dozens of tools when you need them.   If your current adventures include analyzing data, the Editor menu in Minitab Statistical Software is just as essential. Minitab’s Dynamic Editor Menu Any job goes more smoothly... Continue Reading
Since it's the Halloween season, I want to share how a classic horror film helped me get a handle on an extremely useful statistical distribution.  The film is based on John W. Campbell's classic novella "Who Goes There?", but I first became  familiar with it from John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing.   In the film, researchers in the Antarctic encounter a predatory alien with a truly frightening... Continue Reading
People who are ill frequently need medication. But if they miss a dose, or receive the wrong medication—or even get the wrong dose of the right medication—the results can be disastrous.  So medical professionals have a lot at stake in making sure patients get the right medicine, in the right amount, at the right time. But hospitals and other medical facilities are complex systems, and mistakes do... Continue Reading
I read trade publications that cover everything from banking to biotech, looking for interesting perspectives on data analysis and statistics, especially where it pertains to quality improvement. Recently I read a great blog post from Tony Taylor, an analytical chemist with a background in pharmaceuticals. In it, he discusses the implications of the FDA's updated guidance for industry analytical... Continue Reading
You know what the big thing is in the data analysis world—"Big Data." Big, big, big, very big data. Massive data. ENORMOUS data. Data that is just brain-bendingly big. Data so big that we need globally interconnected supercomputers that haven't even been built yet just to contain one one-billionth of it. That's the kind of big data everybody's so excited about.  Whatever. There's no denying that... Continue Reading
Whatever industry you're in, you're going to need to buy supplies. If you're a printer, you'll need to purchase inks, various types of printing equipment, and paper. If you're in manufacturing, you'll need to obtain parts that you don't make yourself.  But how do you know you're making the right choice when you have multiple suppliers vying to fulfill your orders?  How can you be sure you're... Continue Reading
When we take pictures with a digital camera or smartphone, what the device really does is capture information in the form of binary code. At the most basic level, our precious photos are really just a bunch of 1s and 0s, but if we were to look at them that way, they'd be pretty unexciting. In its raw state, all that information the camera records is worthless. The 1s and 0s need to be converted... Continue Reading