Evolution is change in the heritable traits of biological populations over successive generations. Through these developments new species are formed, others continue through gradual adaptation, and others altogether disappear. Natural selection is typically the mechanism that intervenes in a species’ survival or extinction, but perhaps not the only one. A bolide with a diameter of a few kilometers hitting the earth or a massive climate-changing volcanic explosion may well explain why some species have kissed their… ice goodbye.1
Part of the job of a statistician is to make inferences about a population from a sample. Sometimes we might assume that our data come from a particular distribution. In the case of the height of adult females, observations will be well fitted by a normal distribution, meaning that there are few very small and very tall people and a lot of people around the middle. In this case the distribution will be completely specified by assigning values to its parameters (here, the mean and variance). Our inferences are thus termed parametric.
Having a passion for statistics may not be well understood by friends. Significance readers would sympathise, I’m sure, but such apparently ‘odd’ behaviour is often hard for others to comprehend. And while you might expect members of your family to share or, at the very least, to accept your interests, there are no guarantees.
Tomorrow sees the release of The Imitation Game, a film chronicling the work of mathematician Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch, both pictured), who led efforts to unravel the German Enigma code - a development that helped the Allies win the Second World War. Turing employed several technologies and techniques in his work, including Banburismus, a process he invented which used sequential conditional probability to infer information about the likely settings of the Enigma machine.
We collect and analyse data so routinely in 2014 that we now take it for granted. Statistics track almost every commercial and public service along with the quantification and gamification of our daily lives. This in turn fuels the myriad of polling data and statistics at the heart of the Scottish independence referendum debate raging at the moment.
Historians this year will commemorate the bicentenary of Napoleon’s campaign in Russia in the War of the Empires. On June 24, 1812, he crossed the Russian frontier with 422,000 men.More than half of them were either conscripts or mercenaries from twenty nationalities across Europe. Of these, 95,000 came from the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.