Statistics and Mathematics–Trouble at the Interface? / Breaking Misconceptions–Statistics and its Relationship to Mathematics / Mathematics: Governess or Handmaiden? …
Statistics and Mathematics-Trouble at the Interface?, P. Sprent. The Statistician (Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series D) 47:2 (1998) 239-244. Breaking Misconceptions-Statistics and its Relationship to Mathematics, D. J. Hand. Ibid., 245-250. Mathematics: Governess or Handmaiden?, S. Senn. Ibid., 251-260. Statistics and Mathematics: The Appropriate Use of Mathematics Within Statistics, R. A. Bailey. Ibid., 261-272. Discussion on the Papers on `Statistics and Mathematics,’ Ibid., 273-290.
Is statistics a branch of mathematics? Do mathematical definitions, theorems, and proofs belong in statistics courses and journals? These issues are addressed in the four articles cited, whose texts were lectures at a meeting of the Royal Statistical Society in June 1997. Numerous examples are given both of mindlessly abstract rigor thrown at statistics students or practitioners and of the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” in grounding and clarifying a statistical environment. An instance of the latter is Sir Ronald Fisher’s use of finite abelian group theory in his work on factorial designs. It is further noted that the theory of irreducible characters allows the extension of his method of confounding to factorial designs of arbitrary sizes. Although one has the impression that the authors may be speaking past one another without perceivable effect, their remarks crystallize complaints and views that must surely permeate both academic and industrial statistics. The extensive discussions that follow the four papers are, if anything, more intriguing than the papers themselves. The whole subject is reminiscent of the controversy between traditionalists and reformers of calculus education. NS
Copyright Mathematical Association Of America Mar 1999
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