Thursday, October 17, 2002

 8:30 p.m.
[Note change in time as of  9-12-02]
Natural Resources 101

Ann E.Watkins*
Professor  of Mathematics, California State University
Northridge, and President of the MAA

" Tasting Soup, and How Not To"
When you taste a spoonful of chicken soup and conclude that the whole pot needs salt, that's an inference. To know if your inference is valid, you have to know how your one spoonful—the data—got taken from the pot. If there's a lot of salt sitting on the bottom, soup from the surface won't be representative, and you'll end up with an incorrect inference. But if you stir the soup thoroughly before you taste, your spoonful of data can tell you about the whole pot.  Obvious?  Then why do surveys and polls sometimes go so wrong?

Special Mathematics Colloquium
"Fallacies in Elementary Statistics"

Thursday, October 17, 2002

4:00 p.m.
Natural Resources 101
Pre-colloquium tea and reception at 3:30 outside Library 56
We will have some fun demolishing several enticing examples that commonly are used in statistics textbooks to illustrate the mean, median, and mode.  A little calculus backed up by some data show that these concepts are not as intuitive as they appear.


*About Ann E. Watkins:

Ann Watkins is Professor of Mathematics at California State University, Northridge.

In January 2001, she became president of the MAA, having served previously as second vice-president, governor of the Southern California Section, chair of the Coordinating Council on Education, and co-editor of the College Mathematics Journal.

Professor Watkins' field is statistics education. In 1999, she was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. She is a former chair of the Advanced Placement Statistics Development Committee and the co-author or co-editor of thirteen books including Activity-Based Statistics, Statistics in Action, and Exploring Data. She was selected as the 1994-1995 Cal State Northridge Outstanding Professor and won the 1997 Cal State Northridge Award for the Advancement of Teaching Effectiveness.