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Collecting Data in Challenging Settings is Featured Article in Latest Issue

13 May 2010 No Comment

Mike Larsen, Editor, CHANCE Magazine

Volume 23, issue 2, begins with an article by Jana Asher on collecting data in challenging settings. In particular, Asher describes her experiences conducting in-person survey interviews in East Timor. She gives us personal anecdotes, practical statistical advice, and an interesting story.

Qi Zheng explains the origins of the Luria-Delbrück distribution and its role in studying evolutionary change in E. coli. The statistical reasoning underlying the phenomenon has a connection to the distribution of slot machine returns.

Holmes Finch’s article, “Using Item Response Theory to Understand Gender Differences in Opinions on Women in Politics,” compares and contrasts item response models and how they describe a data set. The models are explained using formulas, pictures, and examples.

In CHANCE 22(4), Jürgen Symanzik proposed a puzzle based on 10 data points and a set of seven instructions. Contest winner Stephanie Kovalchik, a graduate student at UCLA, provided a solution in the form of an amusing letter and an illustrative graphic. The 10 data values were flight times in seconds recorded on the log 10 scale of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Brad Thiessen earned honorable mention for his graph that included temperature and historical facts.

Bernard Dillard asks, “Who turned out the lights?” We are all concerned with energy demand and production. Dillard uses a discrete wavelet transformation to analyze electricity consumption data measured on a frequent time scale. The fit of the model is used in multiscale statistical process control. The ultimate goal is to be able to accurately predict points of extreme energy demand and respond appropriately.

Students in virtually all statistics courses learn something of least squares estimation when studying prediction of an outcome from an explanatory variable. Ivo Petras and Igor Podlubny ask whether there is a reasonable alternative to the default criterion. “Least Circles” is presented for your consideration.

To introduce students to concepts of design of experiments, instructors sometimes have students conduct taste tests of various food items, such as gummy bears (see CHANCE 23(1)). John Bohannon, Robin Goldstein, and Alexis Herschkowitsch compared dog food and pâté. Really, they did. Read about their design and the results in this issue.

Howard Wainer, in his Visual Revelations column, writes about the graphics in the 2008 National Healthcare Quality Report and State Snapshots. Usefully and accurately displaying information graphically is important and challenging. Wainer makes suggestions for improving some of the displays.

Ronald Smeltzer shows us an early time-line bar graph by Philippe Buache depicting the water level of the Seine in Paris from 1732 to 1767. The picture creatively and effectively depicts data in print before the advent of modern printing techniques.

Continuing a series of articles on postage stamps, Peter Loly and George P. H. Styan discuss stamps issued in sheets with 5×5 Latin square designs. Color versions of the stamps, as well as previous articles on stamps, are available online here.

Jonathan Berkowitz’s puzzle celebrates the 2010 Winter Olympics, which were held in his home city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The puzzle, “Employs Magic,” is actually five smaller puzzles, each a cryptic five-square of 10 words.

The ASA Executive Committee met recently and voted to continue CHANCE for another three years in both print and online. The next executive editor will serve in 2011–2013. The committee also voted to make the online version of CHANCE free to ASA’s student members. Thus members of the ASA with certified student status will be able to access CHANCE online as a member benefit. This is a great development, because students are potential long-term subscribers and future authors. They also can be inspired by the significant role that probability and statistics plays in major studies and activities. This development might motivate others to submit articles to CHANCE to entertain and influence this group.

The magazine is offered to institutions in online deals through Springer. CHANCE went online in 2008. In 2009 there were 153 online deals, which means that 3,730 institutions are exposed to CHANCE . Full-text downloads of articles in 2009 numbered in the hundreds per month. Did you know that you can get, via email, a table of contents notification for CHANCE ? Go to Springer’s CHANCE web site here and look in the right column of the page.

Please send comments and submissions to CHANCE editor Mike Larsen at mlarsen@bsc.gwu.edu.

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