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Ask HN: Suggestions for learning statistics (& prob) really fast?
34 points by samratjp on March 24, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments
Any suggestions for learning basic statistics and probability (and beyond, but need a decent base first :-)?

Preferably, any material that uses R or something student-friendly (read: free or student license) would be extra credit.

Motivation: don't want to take year long stats courses in college that don't use stats software.

EDIT: Just to make the experience fruitful, I am aware of OCW, this (http://www.math.gatech.edu/~cain/textbooks/onlinebooks.html), etc... But, which materials in here or elsewhere are helpful?

I liked this Lecture "Basics of Probability and Statistics" by Mikaela Keller, IDIAP Research Institute.


ps: She is cute. :)

The best first book on R I've read is Gelman and Hill's "Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models" (http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/arm/). It's more focused on regression and Bayesian methods than basic probability, but it's a great book that's priced very competitively (only $39.99).

The MIT probability class targeted at EECS students is 6.041. It is on OCW. It provides a solid foundation in probability with an emphasis on applications (rather than proof). Statistics is but one application of probability and is not heavily emphasized by the class (at least when I took it). That said if you understand 6.041 you'll understand statistics without much more work. Good luck and have fun!

Unfortunately I couldn't find video lectures for 6.041. Do you guys only use lecture notes?

OCW has a list of courses available on video (http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/courses/av/index.htm). 6.041 isn't one of them.

The Headfirst series has a statistics book now: http://www.amazon.com/Head-First-Statistics-Dawn-Griffiths/d...

No it doesn't have R in it, but it's an interesting read

Well written, humorous intro to statistics using R: http://www.amazon.com/Statistics-Introduction-Michael-J-Craw...

http://www.amazon.com/Theoretic-Probability-Statistical-Prob... is a great book if you want to learn advanced probability theory and techniques.

A very good, readable, SHORT article worth rereading about what makes statistics a separate subject from mathematics is


The article includes a bibliography of recommended readings, and talks about the use of software in statistics education.

Another good article is


Both articles will help a student in any kind of statistics course or statistics self-study better understand statistics, and how probability relates to statistics.

I took Applied Statistics 550 with all assignments in R. Caught me up on statistics real fast after I hadn't taken it in about 2 years. Concepts in Probability and Stochastic Modeling, Huggins and Keller-Mcnulty. Its good and short. Doesn't have the R assignments though.

I am in a Prop and Stats course right now would like this just so I can apply it outside of class to something useful.

Read the "Cartoon Guide to Statistics". It's no joke. Rather, perhaps the book that explains statistics in the clearest way.


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