Don't Get Me Started - Calc or Stats?

• General discussion

• Why are most college-bound students required to take calculus, when even workers in technical fields like medicine and software development rarely—if ever—use it? David Platt says it’s time we all got statistical.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 5:26 PM

All replies

• The problem with statistics is that is often counter-intuitive. Whereas calculus, everybody is intuitively using it every day. So it is just the mathematical confirmation of what you always knew:

- Throwing a stone goes farthest when you throw it at an upward angle of 45 degrees, or a little less if you consider drag
- The subway train takes substantially longer than a car to get to a standstill from running at 50 Mph
- When you accelerate your car, acceleration is greatest at the beginning, and gradually decreasing

The list could be continued endlessly.

And Statistics? How many people do you need in one room to reasonably assume two of them share their birthday date (without the year, of course)? If you stayed in your stat course long enough, you know that it is around 23 people or so. If you didn't, you'd probably guess 100. Q.e.d.

So if stats isn't intuitive, you have to learn it the hard way. And most people will not be able to calculate the correct answer without pen and paper (and a calculator). Same goes for aquire-release semantics. Many good programmers get these wrong.

I fully agree with you on the subject of better teachers, though. But that problem is surely not restricted to stat courses.

Saturday, May 18, 2019 8:31 AM