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Weldon’s Dice Experiment, New Editors, and Much More

1 January 2010 No Comment
Mike Larsen, CHANCE editor

    The issue published in December 2009 marked the end of CHANCE’s 22nd year. Included are entries on a variety of subjects: medicine (EEG wave classification, phase II clinical trials, home care services), sports (soccer, volleyball, and golf), insurance (viatical settlements), history (Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat’s letters), graphics, puzzles, and probability (Weldon’s dice).

    The issue also has a first: Associated with the article on Weldon’s dice experiment by Zac Labby is a YouTube movie. Weldon’s original data were used by Karl Pearson when developing the chi-square statistic. Labby developed the machine as a project for Steve Stigler’s History of Statistics course at The University of Chicago.

    Wanli Min and Gang Luo present methods for classifying EEG waves and applications, particularly in sleep research. Two quite different articles about sleep research appeared in the first issue of 2009. ASA members who subscribe to CHANCE can read the trio together.

    Andreas Nguyen and Kelly Fan discuss ethics associated with phase II clinical trials. Their particular focus is stopping rules, or when to terminate a trial due to early success or failure of a new treatment.

    In Mark Glickman’s Here’s to Your Health column, Douglas Noe, Ian Nelson, Shahla Mehdizadeh, and John Bailer look at classification tree methods for predicting disenrollment of patients from home care services to nursing homes. There are significant costs, both personal and monetary, involved.

    Fred Vars posits probability models for scoring a goal in soccer. The process of shooting for a goal in soccer is so complex that simplifying assumptions must be made when estimating chances of success. Vars compares his results to data and suggests the need for richer data sets.

    Mark Schilling asks whether streaks exist in competitive volleyball. The existence of streaks is challenging to prove, and Mark discusses why. Meanwhile, Bill Hurley looks at the odds of the outcomes of a golf tournament and whether a victory by the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup was really amazing.

    Mark Haug and Heather Ardery discuss viatical settlements, or the sale of life insurance policies to third parties. Has anyone ever asked you if you would bet your life? In this case, people do.

    Virginia Vimpeny Lewis relates and explains the content of letters between Pascal and Fermat. This historic correspondence played a key role in the development of probability. Lewis provides detailed tables that would be useful in the classroom.

    Howard Wainer, in his Visual Revelations column, critiques a graphic that appeared in The New York Times in May of 2009. Illustrations such as the one discussed are appealing for their color and context, but it is a challenge to accurately communicate information with a fancy graphic.

    Jonathan Berkowitz, in his Goodness of Wit Test column, provides a variety cryptic in the bar-type style. Also, Jüergen Symanzik submitted a statistically based puzzle. Decode the data and provide an explanation and graphic. One winner will be selected from among the submissions submitted by January 28.

    In other news, online library deals that include CHANCE magazine are on the rise. CHANCE went online for the first time in 2007, when CHANCE was covered in six such online deals. The type of deals and type and number of members or sites behind these deals vary greatly. In total, 159 institutions had exposure to CHANCE in 2007 due to the deals. In 2008, CHANCE was covered in 13 online deals and 380 institutions had exposure.

    CHANCE magazine also will add new editors in 2010: Michelle Dunn (National Cancer Institute), Jo Hardin (Pomona College), Yulei He (Harvard Medical School), Jackie Miller (The Ohio State University), and Kary Myers (Los Alamos National Laboratory). Additional editors will help keep reviews of article submissions quick and effective and enable editors to take time to write articles and recruit articles on special topics. The editors will bring fresh perspectives and ideas to CHANCE.

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