Sunday, September 11, 2011
Review - Fundamentals of Statistics, 3rd Edition by Michael Sullivan, III
Short review: What can I say? It's a basic statistics textbook.
Probability and testing
Long review: This book was used as the text for a statistics course I recently took (Statistics 251 for those who are curious), so my thoughts on the book will inevitably be colored by my experiences in that class. To a certain extent, it is impossible to separate the efficacy of the professor from my impressions of the book. Fortunately, the course was quite good and the book was a large part of making it so.
Fundamentals of Statistics covers the basics of statistics starting with sampling methods and ranging through to inferential tests such as tests of independence, homogeneity tests, and least-squares regression models. Each topic is covered in a straightforward step-by-step approach - each concept is broken down into relatively bite-sized chunks, each portion is explained and then followed by a couple of examples illustrating the subject in use. Finally, each segment is followed by a generous helping of exercise problems in which the reader can apply the concepts that had just been taught.
The writing in the book is clear and direct, which is what one should expect from a good textbook. The examples given are varied in subject matter, and often reasonably interesting. This is an improvement on some other statistics textbooks that I have come across in which the bulk of the examples involved drawing different colored marbles from a jar. Like the examples, the exercises are varied and interesting, and are quite effective at illuminating the concepts being discussed. The book also comes with a CD that has a number of preloaded sets of data for use with Minitab that tie to a number of exercises in the book.
Overall, Fundamentals of Statistics is a very good text for a beginning statistics student. It covers the basic mechanics of statistics quite well and presents them in a clear and effective manner. While it is difficult to make a textbook on statistics truly interesting, this book does about as good a job a one could do in that regard.
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