Browsing category statistics

Middle children

At an academic conference; 22 people in the room. Speaker asks who is a middle child. There is only one in the entire group - him. Striking (if anecdotal) confirmation of stereotypes about birth order. — Leigh Caldwell (@leighblue) December 14, 2018 As a loyal listener to More or Less,

Read More

Random number tables

I challenge you to write an interesting blog post about random number tables — Jo Morgan (@mathsjem) June 28, 2017 If you flick to the back of an old A-level formula sheets, you might spot a list of random digits like this one from an MEI book: Why on earth

Read More

The Mathematical Ninja and the Poisson Distribution

"What are the ch..." "About 11.7%," said the Mathematical Ninja. "Assuming $X$ is drawn from a Poisson distribution with a mean of 9 and we want the probability that $X=7$." "That's a fair assumption, sensei," pointed out the student, "given that that's what the sodding question says." A wiser student

Read More

How do you estimate the normal distribution for large $z$?

In working out a recent blog post, I had cause to find the probability, in a standard normal distribution, of $z < -23$. Beyond "that's a REALLY SMALL NUMBER"1, I was stumped. Could I get anywhere close mentally? A good question. Starting from the definition of the normal distribution, $p(z)

Read More

Ask Uncle Colin: A Stretch, Indeed

Dear Uncle Colin, My research has determined that female adults have a mean overhead reach of 208.5cm, with a standard deviation of 8.6cm, and follows a normal distribution. I wanted to know the probability that the mean overhead reach of 50 female adults would lie between 180cm and 200cm and

Read More

The Echo and a simple answer

Don't get me wrong, The Dorset Echo is one of my favourite local newspapers. They have been kind enough to feed my ego on several occasions, and even if their headlines sometimes don't quite reflect the gist of the story, I appreciate that. This time, though, they've gone too far.1

Read More

Picking a station

There's a lot of dead time to fill up when you're covering the Boat Race. Once you've interviewed one gaggle of inebriated revellers from each of the two universities, you've interviewed them all. Once you've explained that the best strategy is to go faster than the other boat, there's not

Read More

Poissons and binomials

A student asked: What's the link between the Poisson formula and the binomial? ... and I started to cry a little bit. Infinitely many trials You use the Poisson distribution when you have events happening at a constant rate, on a continuous time-frame - as opposed to the binomial, which

Read More

Why the Mathematical Ninja hopes for a hard exam

The Mathematical Ninja sighs. "Say that again?" "I hope it's an easy paper!" says the student, brightly. Wearily, the Mathematical Ninja goes to the board and sketches two curves. They look a little like boa constrictors that have swallowed elephants. "You're above average, correct?" he asks. The student doesn't look

Read More

The Names of the Isle of Portland

Portland, Oregon, is one of the places in the USA that takes great pride in its self-conscious kookiness -- you see bumper stickers saying 'Keep Portland Weird', just like you do in Asheville, North Carolina and Austin, Texas, and probably another dozen cities who, if they were people, would go

Read More

Sign up for the Sum Comfort newsletter and get a free e-book of mathematical quotations.

No spam ever, obviously.

Where do you teach?

I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

On twitter