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Chapters 2 & 3: Compact Guide to Classical Inference

Today we’re releasing another two chapters of the Compact Guide to Classical Inference. Today’s chapters lay much of the foundation for the compact approach. Chapter 2 describes briefly the organization of data and introduces two simple notions not usually found in traditional approaches: identifying a specific response variable and creating an indicator variable when the response is categorical. Simple as indicator variables are, using them enables problems involving proportions to be folded directly onto the settings for quantitative response variables. Just this simple step reduces the number of inferential settings by half! (Later,  we’ll see how it also handles the situation usually, and unnecessarily, treated with chi-square.)

Chapter 3 is very short: measuring variation. As you’ll see, a central unifying theme of inference is measuring the amount of variation in the response variable and comparing that … well you’ll have to wait for Chapters 4 and 5 for that!

The variance is the star here. No longer relegated to being an intermediate step in calculating a standard deviation, the variance shines on its own.

The textbook method for computing the variance involves subtracting the mean from each data value. As an innovation, Chapter 3 shows the variance solely in terms of comparing pairs of values. This little added insight into a familiar statistical quantity alone justifies reading the chapter.

The compact guide to classical inference

Today we’re releasing the first of about a dozen installments of  a new short book that emerged from the StatPREP summer workshops. The book, Compact Guide to Classical Inference, is available in an online format here. It’s intended to help instructors see that there can be a simple way to teach basic statistical inference.

In addition to the book, we’ve set up an online discussion forum through the Mathematics Association of America. You’ll need an MAA Connect account, but you can set this up through the link even if you don’t belong to the MAA.

The  first installment includes the preface and the first chapter,  “What is classical inference?”  The standard answer is that classical inference is the set Read more