Project suggestions for Chance course
General remarks. You might like to through recent issues of chance news base for
current events that interest you. If you find an interesting topic you can search
for articles on this topic using the "search Chance data base" in the chance data
base on gopher. You can also look through Chance magazine in Fine Library. There are
many interesting chance topics there that could get you started on a topic of interest
You may find some interesting chance project connected with a course you have taken.
For example, many economic courses discuss the role of chance in investments,
behavior of the stock market -- is it random, why choose a portfolio of stocks
instead of a single stock etc? Don't take on two broad a topic. It is better to say something
interesting about a specific aspect of the problem. Try to make your own contribution
by giving your analysis, insights, and, when practical, your own experiments.
ETHICS: What are the ethical problems involved in the data bases for DNA fingerprinting?
What are the ethical issues in the genome project? There are a number of interesting
ethical issues in medical trials.
STATISTICAL ISSUES IN EVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. The spring l991 issue of Chance magazine
has a good discussion of the general problem. Find some particular issue that
interests you -- for example, are you increasing the chance of getting cancer
by sitting in front of your computer? There was a long series of articles in the New Yorker
on this topic.
STREAKS IN SPORTS You could try to get data for Dartmouth basketball games to analyze.
Alternatively, you could give a critical survey of the work done so far. This
is the Zaleskas study done at Harvard and the three others reported in Chance
DO RIGHT HANDERS LIVE LESS LONG THAN LEFT HANDERS? Studies have claimed that right
handers live nine years longer on average than left-handers. Review these studies
and say what you think about this.
SAT ISSUES We will consider a number of issues relating to the SAT exams: predictability,
gender issues, use in admission etc. You could look into one of these topics in
more depth and write up your own views on the matter. You could use data already obtained or probably get additional data from the registrar.
We will see that different studies give different results on how much coaching for
SAT exams helps. review these studies and give your impressions of the weakness
and the strength of the studies.
EXTRA SENSORY PERCEPTION(ESP) Polls suggest that about fifty percent of the people
believe in some form of extra sensory perception. What has statistics to say about
this? You could arrange to do your own experimenting and analyze the
BASEBALL SALERIES Are baseball players paid according to their performance abilities?
Data relating to answer this question is given in the baseball-salaries folder
in the Chance folder on Pubic File Server. This data was for the year 1986 and
was the basis for a contest to see who could do the best job of answering this question
using modern graphical methods. An important tip is to look at simple functions
of the data. For example, for some data such as salaries it often helps to take
the logarithm of the salaries before looking at correlation's. For more details about
this problem read the file baseball_salaries_read_me in the baseball-salaries folder.
WEATHER PREDICTIONS. What does the weather reporter mean by "there is a forty percent
chance of rain today?" It would be interesting to interview local weather predictors
or the regional weather office to find out what they think about this and related weather prediction problems.
You might see if there is a statistical difference between the predictions of two
different local weather predictors.
How should the weather predictor be rewarded to make his predictions as informative
as possible? For example if we just reward him for the number of times he is right
he will probably make very bland predictions that can hardly be wrong but which
are not very useful.
STATISTICS IN ADVERTISING: May advertisements say that "studies show" etc. Collect
some of these and comment on how honest and well docuemtned these claims are.
EARTHQUAKE PREDICTION: How are earthquakes predicted and how reliable have the
OPINION POLLS. Carry out and analyze the results of an opinion poll. Discuss some
of the issues in opinion polls. For example, ways in which they effect the political
Economist have entirely different ways of predicting the outcome of the elections
that makes very little use of public opinion. How does there prediction records
compare with pollsters?
HOW SAFE IS SAFE SEX? The safety of condoms is often estimated from previous estimates
of the reliability of the condom for birth control. What do they mean when they
say it is 85 percent reliable in birth control?
GAMES There are many interesting probability problems in board games such as risk
where outcomes depends upon chance. Choose your favorite game and see if you can
identify probability problems whose solutions might help you in the game. The same
is true for casino games. Obviously, you cannot give a complete analysis of blackjack
but you can study some particular options to see what the best strategy is.
THE ROLE OF CHANCE IN LITERATURE. A famous and fascinating example is Dostoyevsky's
"The gambler" but there are many other examples.
GOOD AND BAD GRAPHICS DISPLAYS The classic book on this subject is The Visual Display
of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte. You could make your own collection
of graphs from newspapers, journals etc. and give your analysis of which are effective and which are not and why. An interesting project would be to use the scanner
to make a graphics program that would provide good and bad examples and your comments
on them taken from Tufte and your own research.
THE ROLE OF CHANCE IN MUSIC. Mozart composed a piece of music by rolling dice. It
would be interesting to implement this piece on the Macintosh and see how it sounds.
Modern composers use chance on a regular basis. How do they use it? Are there
statistical regularities in their works etc?
STATISTICS IN MEDICINE It is hard to open any newspaper and not read about a new
medical breakthrough that usual involves a statistical study. Choose an area of
interest to you and give a critical discussion of the study.
QUALITY CONTROL--THE DEMINING STORY. The story of how Japan won the industrial war
is a fascinating statistical story. You can find it written up in Chance magazine.
You could interview a local business that uses quality control and write up there
experience with it. The Dartmouth Press would be a good possibility for this. Another
interesting project would be to figure out a nice way to do the famous Deming bead
experiment and try it out.
DNA FINGERPRINTING IN THE COURTS. There are many issues legal, statistical and ethical
on the use of DNA fingerprinting in the courts.
LIBRARY SEARCHES You will almost certainly want to use the impressive literature
search capabilities including Lexis-Nexis of your library.