Mathematics 13: CHANCE is a new, experimental math course that is being offered at UCSD for the first time this semester. The standard elementary math course develops a body of mathematics in a systematic way and gives some highly simplified real-world examples in the hope of suggesting the importance of the subject. In the course CHANCE, we will choose serious applications of probability and statistics and make these the focus of the course, developing concepts in probability and statistics only to the extent necessary to understand the applications. The goal is to make students more literate in statistics and probability, and to motivate them to continue their study of mathematics.
The journal Chance, started by Springer in l988, is the inspiration for this course. In its brief existence, Chance has attracted some of the leading workers in probability and statistics to write articles on subjects of current interest in a way understandable by a reader with little previous knowledge of probability and statistics. Topics that have been covered in Chance include:
Other topics that have been recently discussed in the press and popular journals such as Nature, Science, and Scientific American are:
In the course of the term, we will choose six to ten separate topics to discuss with special emphasis on topics currently in the news. We will start by reading a newspaper account of the topic. In most cases this will be the account in the New York Times. We will then study the treatments in journals like Chance, Science, Nature, and Scientific American. These articles will be supplemented by readings on the basic probability and statistics concepts relating to the topic. We will use computer simulations and statistical packages to better illustrate the relevant theoretical concepts.