Search MAA Reviews:
A Whistle-Stop Tour of Statistics
Brian S. Everitt
Publisher: Chapman & Hall/CRC (2012)
Details: 199 pages, Paperback
Category: Student Helps
Topics: Probability, Statistics
MAA Review[Reviewed by Robert W. Hayden, on 05/16/2012]
The jacket and publisher’s blurb suggest this text might be suitable for students in an introductory statistics course, or even a curious layperson. In fact the level is much higher. Calculus is assumed through defining a function of t as an integral with respect to x in which t is a parameter of the integrand. The Gamma function is assumed to be familiar, as is practical linear algebra through eigenvectors.
The general plan for each chapter is to present the topic at a glossary level and then give an example problem with answer. There is some attention to assumptions but brevity precludes much practical advice. The computational examples suggest an exam on the horizon — a researcher might want more on the uses and weaknesses of the technique than the computations. The level of prior statistical training assumed is unclear, as histograms are explained but we soon get to moment generating functions. Readers are often referred to texts in mathematical statistics for details.
It is a bit hard to place this work in the context of higher education in the United States. The work seems more geared to the British educational system. We might conceptualize this as a study guide for an imaginary examination that all undergraduate statistics majors have to take — sort of a GRE for statistics. It could remind an examinee of material studied some time ago, or alert them to topics they may not have studied at all.
For an MAA member, this book might serve as a small desktop encyclopedia of statistics covering one person’s view of the core of an undergraduate major. For someone with the mathematical prerequisites, it can answer questions such as “What is logistic regression?” with a bit more detail than a dictionary of statistics. (Such a dictionary is among the author’s other publications.) This certainly seems more a reference work than something to be read from cover to cover. This is not a bad book but it is not a book with a clear audience.
After a few years in industry, Robert W. Hayden (firstname.lastname@example.org) taught mathematics at colleges and universities for 32 years and statistics for 20 years. In 2005 he retired from full-time classroom work. He now teaches statistics online at statistics.com and does summer workshops for high school teachers of Advanced Placement Statistics. He contributed the chapter on evaluating introductory statistics textbooks to the MAA's Teaching Statistics.