Lectures: | Mon Wed 10:05-11:20 | 116 Old Chem | |

Prof: | Robert L. Wolpert | TA: | Ed Tam |

E-mail: |
rlw@duke.edu |
edric.tam@duke.edu | |

Office: | 211c Old Chem, 919-684-3275 | 203 Old Chem | |

OH: | Mon 3:30-5:00pm | Tue 12:00n-2:00pm | |

Mon Wed 11:20-11:30am (after class, in classroom) |

Course: | Syllabus | Exam Formula Sheet | Diagnostic Quiz |
---|---|---|---|

Computing: | R | MatLab | Python |

The course text is Jim Pitman, Probability. All class materials are distributed on-line via the web; for example, you will be able to view homework assignments (and sometimes class notes) on the Syllabus. Homework and exam scores will be reported through Sakai.

The only way to be sure you're learning the course material is to solve problems (or, as Sophocles put it, One must learn by doing the thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.) Eleven weekly problem sets are assigned through the on-line syllabus. Homeworks are collected at the start of class each Wednesday (so I can answer questions about them in class), and are (usually) returned the following Monday class after which solutions will be made available. They may also be submitted electronically to Sakai's "Drop Box," with a time stamp before the start of class. Late homeworks are accepted with a penalty of about 10% per day, up until the solutions are posted. Lateness penalties are waived for students with excused absences, and for all students the lowest homework score will be dropped.

You may work with other students on the homework problems, but your
final answers should be written up independently: copying homework
solutions is not allowed (see Academic Integrity
section below). You are encouraged to ask the professor and the TAs for
help on your homework (in person or by e-mail), **after** you have tried
to solve the problems on your own. Questions about homework scores should
first be addressed to the TAs.

For full credit on homework assignments and exams, **numerical answers**
should be given either as fractions in lowest terms (2/3, not 17/51), or as
decimals to four significant places (0.6666 or 0.6667, not 0.6 or 0.7)—
*not* as expressions still in need of evaluation (like e^{log 2 -0.25
log 81} or Σ_{n≥1}(2/5)^{n})
), even if they're correct (and even if the ‘Brief
Solutions’ in the text give something else).

Sometimes it's helpful to see another author's description of the same concepts. Here's a free book that's pretty good, if you'd like to see another presentation of the material.

Some homework assignments will have a computing component. You may use whatever computing environment you prefer; good choices include R, Matlab, Python, Mathematica, or Maple. All of these will become tools you can use in later work, making them preferable to spreadsheets like Excel, old-fashioned statistics environments like SAS or Stata or SPSS, pedagogic intro statistics environments like JMP or Minitab, or introductory computing languages like BASIC or Pascal. If you are undecided I would recommend the RStudio environment for the free open-source statistical software environment R. Especially if you already have experience with it, another good choice is the engineering staple Matlab, for which you can get help from your instructors and can find a free primer or tutorial on the web. Yet another good choice is the general computing environment Python, for which your instructors can also help. Both R and Python are open-source and free, and work well under windows, OS-X, and linux. Matlab is proprietary and expensive, but is commonly used in engineering courses and is available in all the OIT computer labs and VMs.

In each week's lectures I will try to help clear up topics that many
students find difficult, and will try to illustrate tough (or fun) ideas
with interesting examples. I can *not* cover every important topic in
class, however, there just isn't enough time. The
syllabus lists reading assignments each week (the green or blue
textbook chapter number on the left of each row); **you are
responsible** for learning the material from any combination of the text,
problems, and lectures. Sketchy lecture notes are available for most
weeks' lectures (click on the chapter number), but lectures are dynamic and
often include examples or topics beyond those notes, and may omit topics
covered in the text that nevertheless appear on homeworks or exams. Please
ask questions in class or office-hours or by e-mail if you are struggling
(or just curious) about topics from the readings or lectures.

In-class Midterm and Final examinations are closed-book and
closed-notes, but you may bring and use a single 8½"×11" sheet
of your own notes. You should bring to each exam a calculator capable of
computing exponentials, powers, and factorials. **No phones**, tablet
devices, or laptops may be used--- all such devices, notes and other
materials must be on the floor. Tests from a couple of MTH230/STA230
offerings a few years ago are available to help you know what to expect and
to help you prepare for this year's tests:

Fall 2010: | 1st Midterm | 2nd Midterm | Final Exam | ||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Fall 2013: | 1st Midterm | 2nd Midterm | Final Exam |

Course grades are based on two in-class Midterm Exams (20% each), ten weekly Homework assignments (20% total), and a cumulative Final Exam (the rest, 40%). If it seems helpful I may give occasional short in-class quizzes, which will count no more than 5% of the grade (reducing the weight of homework). Missed homeworks receive zero scores and late homeworks are penalized, but the lowest homework score is dropped. Histograms and summary statistics of midterm and final exam grades will be added to the syllabus web page. Each student's current average and course grade are available from the professor at any time. Historically the median grade has been close to the A-/B+ border.

Cheating on exams, plagiarism on homeworks and projects, copying homework, lying about an illness or absence and other forms of academic dishonesty are a breach of trust with classmates and faculty, and will not be tolerated. They also violate Duke's Community Standard and will be referred to the Dean of Students' Office of Student Conduct as described here: Academic Integrity Council. Additionally, there may be penalties to your final course grade.

Students who miss tests or assignments due to a scheduled varsity athletic
trip or religious holiday should submit an on-line
NOVAP or RHoliday form, respectively, at least a week *ahead* of time and
meet with me to arrange to make up the work (often before the scheduled
event).

Those with a personal emergency or bereavement should inform me and your academic dean of your predicament, and see me as soon as possible after your return to schedule make-up work. If you are too ill to complete an assignment or attend an examination, inform me as soon as possible using the on-line Short Term Illness Form and see me to make arrangements to make up the missed work. Note that the Community Standard sanctions apply for abuse of this procedure.