Mathematics and Statistics Department Host Hope Professor During Colloquium

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

On Nov. 31 the mathematics and statistics department hosted Yew Meng Koh, a mathematics professor from Hope College, to introduce the use of simulation (repeated sampling from a hypothesized population) in the classroom for addressing questions on statistical inference.

According to Koh, statistical inference involves making reasonable statements about unknown population parameters (for instance, the proportion of left-handers at Calvin) and then assessing the evidence we have (or do not have) for statements we made using information collected from a population sample.

Koh says, “Statistical inference goes far beyond looking at anecdotal evidence from your one sample. It also takes into account what would happen when a large number of samples are collected from the same population.” In essence, Koh urged students and professors to notice that different samples collected resulted in different estimates of that proportion.

“I would say that statistics is a pragmatic and very interesting field, with something for everyone — research in statistical methods involves a lot of mathematics, while the application of statistical methods encompasses every discipline,” said Koh.

Further, he tells Calvin how viable a statistics major is in today’s world. Koh believes that there is a lot of statistical data out in the open; thus, there is the need for us to understand whether the information being presented is sound.

In addition, he advises statistics majors who are considering furthering their education in statistical science to have good quantitative and mathematics skills, as this is a major requirement as they climb the academic ladder in that field.

Also, Koh encourages non-statistics majors to understand basic statistical ideas, know how to implement them and be able to make sound interpretations of such data, as this is easily attainable in all fields.