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CHANCE Highlights: Issue Looks at Black History Month, Slot Machines, and Crowd Funding

1 February 2021 No Comment
Amanda Plunkett, CHANCE Executive Editor

    This month, we celebrate Black History Month, and this issue of CHANCE includes a couple articles in honor of the celebrated month in addition to articles on other topics. We also have a special interview to share with you.

    Rob Kass and CHANCE advisory editor Sam Behseta interview Emery Brown, professor of medical engineering and computational neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, and anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Brown is a renowned anesthesiologist statistician recognized for developing signal processing algorithms for neuroscience data analysis and defining the neurophysiology mechanisms of general anesthesia. He was recently awarded the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience. Kass and Behseta talk with Brown about his extraordinary career and the path he took to get there.

    James Dickens details a diversity and inclusion initiative through a data science education partnership between American University and DC Public Schools. He provides insight into the successes, challenges, and future directions of the program, which could serve as a model for outreach programs at other universities.

    The recent rise in internet-based crowdfunding poses interesting questions about successful fundraising strategies, as well as a wealth of data to analyze. Projects raising funds through these campaigns seek donors, attaining differing outcomes through a potpourri of project designs. In “Dynamics of Reward-Based Crowd-Funding: Kickstarter Rock Music Projects,” Moinak Bhaduri, Joe Dery, Dominique Haughton, Tao Li, Piaomu Liu, and Wenxiu (Vince) Nan analyze rock music projects on the popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter.com.

    Ernie Walker derives the probabilities of winning various slot machine jackpots in “Monty Python and the Probability of Winning the Holy Grail.” Find out if these slot machines are worth playing and whether Walker won the jackpot in a recent visit to the casino. 

    In “Early Statistical Findings and Authorship Misattribution: An Unsystematic Review of the Literature,” Nigel Smeeton highlights the challenges of correctly attributing original statistics research. He presents examples of work incorrectly attributed to the wrong author and calls for further investigation and documentation via an accessible misattribution database.

    Does driving to and from familiar destinations without full attention, or colloquially “on auto-pilot,” put drivers at risk for traffic accidents? Or, are accidents more likely to happen on unfamiliar roads? Johnathon Ehsani and Brian Tefft investigate these questions in “Crash Risk and Roadway Familiarity.” 

    In “Odds of Justice,” Mary Gray discusses programs to engage underrepresented groups in the statistics field. She also tackles racial discrimination and how statisticians may be able to offer solutions. 

    In “Book Reviews,” John Wiorkowski reviews the fictional book, Data Games. Christian Robert reviews three additional books: Understanding Elections Through Statistics: Polling, Prediction, and Testing; Principles of Uncertainty (Second Edition); and Statistics and Analysis of Scientific Data (Second Edition).

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