Lab 08 - Simulation-based inference

Due: Friday, Apr 10 at 11:59pm EST


In 2004, the state of North Carolina released a large data set containing information on births recorded in the state. This data set is useful to researchers studying the relation between habits and practices of expectant mothers and the birth of their children. We’ll work with a random sample of observations from this data set.

Getting started

Clone your assignment repo into RStudio Cloud and open the R Markdown file. Don’t forget to load in the necessary packages and configure git.

use_git_config("your name","your email")

If you would like your git password cached for a week for this project, type the following in the Terminal:

git config --global credential.helper 'cache --timeout 604800'

You will need to enter your GitHub username and password one more time after caching the password.This is only good for this single RStudio Cloud project; you will need to cache your credentials for each project you create.


We’ll read in ncbirths with


In the dataset we have observations on 13 different variables, some categorical and some numerical. The meaning of each variable is as follows.

variable description
fage father’s age in years.
mage mother’s age in years.
mature maturity status of mother.
weeks length of pregnancy in weeks.
premie whether the birth was classified as premature (premie) or full-term.
visits number of hospital visits during pregnancy.
marital whether mother is married or not married at birth.
gained weight gained by mother during pregnancy in pounds.
weight weight of the baby at birth in pounds.
lowbirthweight whether baby was classified as low birthweight (low) or not (not low).
gender gender of the baby, female or male.
habit status of the mother as a nonsmoker or a smoker.
whitemom whether mom is white or not white.

Set a seed

Before you get started, set the seed so each person in your group will be able to reproduce your analysis.



In addition to quantile(), diff(), and, your code should only contain functions from the loaded R packages above unless explicitly stated in an Exercise.

Baby weights

Wen, Shi Wu, Michael S. Kramer, and Robert H. Usher. “Comparison of birth weight distributions between Chinese and Caucasian infants.” American Journal of Epidemiology 141.12 (1995): 1177-1187.

A 1995 study suggests that the average weight of Caucasian babies born in the U.S. is 3,369 grams (7.43 pounds). In this dataset we only have information on mother’s race, so we will make the simplifying assumption that babies of Caucasian mothers are also Caucasian.

We want to evaluate whether the average weight of Caucasian babies in NC has changed from the 1995 study by performing a simulation-based hypothesis test at the .05 significance level.

  1. Write out the hypotheses for this test in words.

  2. Write out the hypotheses for this test in symbolic notation.

  3. Create a well-labelled plot of the null distribution and shade the p-value.

  4. Compute the p-value and interpret your findings within the context of the data and research question.

  5. Compute a 95% confidence interval for the population mean weight of Caucasian babies born in NC. Does this interval cover the value of \(\mu\) under your specified null hypothesis in Exercise 2? Explain why it does or does not.

Baby weight vs. smoking

Consider the possible relationship between a mother’s smoking habit and the weight of her baby. Plotting the data is a useful first step because it helps us quickly visualize trends, identify strong associations, and develop research questions.

  1. Make side-by-side boxplots displaying the relationship between habit and weight. What does the plot highlight about the relationship between these two variables?

  2. Before moving forward, save a version of the dataset omitting observations where there are NAs for habit. You can call this version ncbirths_habitgiven.

The box plots show how the medians of the two distributions compare, but we can also compare the means of the distributions using the following to first group the data by the habit variable, and then calculate the mean weight in these groups using.

There is an observed difference based on our sample data, but we want to know if the difference is statistically significant. In order to answer this question we will conduct a hypothesis test.

  1. Write the hypotheses for testing if the average weights of babies born to smoking and non-smoking mothers are different. Define the difference as smoking - non-smoking.

  2. Perform an appropriate hypothesis test at the 0.10 significance level, calculate the p-value, and interpret the results in the context of the data and research question.

  3. Given your conclusion in Exercise 9, which type of error could you possibly have made. What does this mean in the context of the testing problem.

  4. In this testing framework, what is the probability of a type I error?


Knit to PDF to create a PDF document. Stage and commit all remaining changes, and push your work to GitHub. Make sure all files are updated on your GitHub repo.

Please only upload your PDF document to Gradescope. Associate the “Overall” graded section with the first page of your PDF, and mark where each answer is to the exercises. If any answer spans multiple pages, then mark all pages.

Only one team member needs to submit for the group. After you hit submit, go to View or edit group and select all your team members from the drop-down menu.