Saturday, November 22, 2008

Better statistics, better beer

I'm sure I've spent enough time ranting about my statistics course. Please keep in mind, I'm only taking the blasted class because I have to, it's a requirement, not an elective.  But that's not to say that the subject doesn't have its place in the world, and I thought perhaps the following info might be of interest to Didi or any others struggling through a basic stats course!

Did you know that the t distribution and the t inference procedures were both invented by  a man named William S. Gossett? Gossett studied chemistry and mathematics at New College, Oxford, and after graduation went to work for Guinness in Dublin, where he focused his attention on using statistical methods to find the very best varieties of barley and hopps for Guinness to use in their product. Along the way, he worked with a mathematician named Karl Pearson, who didn't really see the point of Gossett's work, but was willing to help him anyway!

Someone else at Guinness had previously published a paper containing trade secrets of the Guinness brewery so to stop any more disclosure of confidential information Guinness prohibited its employees from publishing any more papers. So when Gossett published his statistical theories he used the pseudonym "Student" so he wouldn't get in trouble. That's why his discovery is known as "Student's t-distribution". Gossett shared his work with an English statistician and geneticist, R.A. Fisher, who appreciated it and followed by developing the t-statistic and the application of t-distribution to regression.  As a result of his statistical work, Gossett was promoted to Head Brewer of a brand new Guinness brewery in London.

What does this mean to you? Well you probably still have to learn what a t-distribution is, along with the t-statistic, degrees of freedom, and t confidence interval. But maybe if you pour yourself a nice pint of Guinness it'll go down a little easier!

I'll end here with an end of the day Saturday Sky:


knitwithit said...

Heh. Right now (well, not exactly this minute, but just before reading your blog) I'm dragging myself through a chapter on testing hypotheses. Last week I learned about t-distribution (which I liked more than the other ones, but I don't know why.)

In three weeks I will be done with this class. I'll do the most elaborate happy dance (beer included) the world has ever seen, and vow to never. ever. ever. ever take statistics again. Unless I want to. I wish this class weren't a requirement. >:|

Carolyn (Harbor Hon) said...

I really don't know what "t" heck you're talking about, but I love the Saturday sky picture. You really know a good one when you see one. xxoo

Cass said...


Sheepish Annie said...

Had I known that statistics and beer were even loosely related, I might have had more interest in taking that course back in my college days...