Sunday, September 14, 2008

A request from the Goatman auteur

by J J Cohen

If you enjoyed this little work of art -- and even if you didn't -- my son Alex requests your assistance with a mathematics project. Having been required to design a survey that will yield a numerical spread, he must now obtain (1) a biased sample [hence ITM, his "voluntary response, convenience sample"] and (2) an unbiased "systematic random sample" [we will be at a grocery store asking every fifth person his query ... and yes I know the demographics of this area will likewise skew the result, but the kid is in sixth grade, an age at which I was trying to figure out how to add fractions like one third to three quarters without making my head explode, so I think I will refrain from challenging him on local median incomes versus national and regional averages] [for the time being].

Please take his survey at right, and please be truthful so that he can with some confidence do his medians and means and whatever else he needs. His future as a statistician hangs in the balance as he attempts to answer questions like "Identify and explain which measure of central tendency best represents the data from each survey."

And yes, I promise a return to medieval posts tomorrow.

[EDIT 9/15: We closed the poll when we got to the number Alex needed, and on his behalf I say THANK YOU to all who participated. Lesson learned: it takes a loooong time to train oneself as a medievalist, since 12 years was the most popular category ... and as commenters pointed out, even that was cutting it short].


Karl Steel said...

This is either sad or hilarious, or some Pagliacci combination of the two, but the choices don't go high enough. BA: 3 1/2 years; MA: 2 years; PhD: 8 years (if we assume 'going to school' means 'registered as a student' rather than 'taking classes')= 13 1/2 years.

prehensel said...

O, range, mean, median, and mode. How you remind me of the general GRE.

Mary Kate Hurley said...

Wait -- those were on the GRE? Wow. Missed that.

And a comment on middle school math -- I'm so glad I was a mathematical underachiever.

Anonymous said...

I was 'lost in translation' over this until I read Karl's helpful comment. For me 3 years BA and 3 years PhD. Not that I got my PHD in 3, but after that I got a job and took another 3 to submit the PhD - so I guess that would all be the same as 9 in total in 'US currency'.

Nowadays that would not be allowed. Funded PhDs here must first complete an MA and then finish their PhD within 4 years or both they, their supervisor and their department are shot.

Anonymous said...

Um, yup, 13 years here, too. BA (4), MPhil (2), MLS (2), PhD (5). We're not being terribly helpful, are we?

Adam Roberts said...

Four year undergrad; four years postgrad. It has a pleasing symmetry, now I come to look at it.