STA 130S: An Introduction to Statistical Reasoning and Data Science (Winter 2016)

[See also the evolving lecture notes (in various formats), to be updated after each lecture.]
This course, intended for students considering a program in Statistical Sciences, discusses the crucial role played by statistical reasoning in solving challenging problems from natural science, social science, technology, health care, and public policy, using a combination of logical thinking, mathematics, computer simulation, and oral and written discussion and analysis. (Warning: This is not a conventional "Introductory Statistics" course; for that you should instead take e.g. STA220H1.)

Instructor: Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal, Department of Statistics, University of Toronto. Sidney Smith Hall, room 5016B; phone (416) 978-4594;;

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:10 - 4:00 p.m. First class Jan 11. Last class Apr 6. No class Feb 15 & 17 (Reading Week).

Course Web Page: Visit for course information and lecture notes.

Lectures: Mondays (and Wed Jan 13), 2:10 - 4:00 p.m., in room 220 of the Galbraith Building (building "GB" on campus map). During lectures, please put away your laptops and cell phones (unless you are using them specifically for a class-related purpose), and pay attention to the material being presented.

Tutorials: Wednesdays (Jan 20 onwards), 2:10 - 4:00 p.m. Your tutorial location and your TA will be announced on the Blackboard Grade Center (by Jan 18), and will be one of:
LM157 -- Natasha Gray (Public Health MSc)
WE76 -- Maelle Marchand (Epidemiology MSc)
SS621 -- Jason Rajsic (Psychology PhD)
IN209 -- Thivviya Vairamuthu (Anthropology MSc)
LM123 -- Nora Zwingerman (Public Health PhD)
Note: Your assigned tutorial on the Blackboard Grade Center will include a room, together with a group label in brackets. For example, if it says "WE76(c)", that means your tutorial is in room 76 of Westmore Hall (building "WE" on campus map), and your group label is "c".
Reading assignment for Jan 27: grpexpl.pdf.
Practice questions on Feb 29: compareUPX.pdf. [See newspaper link.]
Practice questions on Mar 15: pracprov.pdf.

Office Hours: The instructor and TAs will all be available after every class, so please come talk to us! We will also be arranging additional office hours, including before the test and exam. You can also e-mail us any time, to ask questions or arrange one-on-one meetings (for best results, put "STA130" in the subject line).

Corequisite: MAT136H1 / MAT137Y1 / MAT157Y1.

Exclusion: Any of STA220H1/STA255H1/STA248H1/STA261H1/ECO220Y1/ECO227Y1 taken previously or concurrently.

20% Midterm [sol] (2:10-4:00 on Wed Feb 24 in EX320) [BRING YOUR STUDENT CARD AND CALCULATOR];
40% Final Exam (Fri Apr 22, 9:00-12:00, in room 1050 of the Earth Sciences (ES) Building, 33 Willcocks St) [BRING YOUR STUDENT CARD AND CALCULATOR];
10% Quizzes (in tutorials);
10% Oral participation during tutorials (including a professional presentation on March 23/30; see the speaking skills and the March 16 group exercise);
7% Computer homework (HW#1 due Jan 27; HW#2 due Feb 10; HW#3 due Mar 9; all at 2:10pm sharp);
8% Professional report (due March 21 [initial version] and April 6 [final version], at 2:10pm sharp; see rubric);
3% Mentorship participation (to be explained on Jan 27);
2% External event attendance (to be explained on Jan 27).

Communication: This course will require students to communicate well in both written and spoken English, including written answers on the quizzes/test/exam, and oral discussions and presentations in tutorials. Students desiring help may wish to avail themselves of the resources available at: and and; see also these speaking skills.

Computing: Students will be required to do some homework assignments using a computer running the statistical software package "R", which is available to download for free onto any computer or to use in campus labs; see for more information.

Calculators: On the test and exam and some quizzes, you will be permitted to use a simple (non-programmable, non-graphing, non-cell-phone) calculator, so please obtain one. (Don't worry, they're cheap.) You will be provided with a standard normal probability table.

Further Reading: There is no formal textbook for this course. However, for extra reading beyond the lecture notes, there are many traditional textbooks that cover most of the material in the course (though perhaps in a somewhat different way), such as:

There are also many free textbooks and other information available online, such as:

Lateness policy: Homeworks are due at 2:10pm sharp. Lateness penalties are: 1-10 mins = 1 point; 11-30 mins = 2 points; 31-90 mins = 3 points; 91 mins - 24 hours = 4 points; longer = homework not accepted.

Regrading policy: Regrading requests should only be made for genuine grading errors, and should be initiated by writing or typing a complete explanation of your concern (together with your full name, student number, e-mail address, and telephone number) on a separate piece of paper, and giving this together with your original unaltered quiz/homework/test paper to the professor within one week of when the graded homework or test was first available. Warning: your mark may end up going down rather than up. (Note: for the final exam, a different Faculty-wide process is followed.)

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