Allen Downey is a Professor of Computer Science at Olin College of Engineering. He has taught at Wellesley College, Colby College and U.C. Berkeley. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley and Master's and Bachelor's degrees from MIT.
This article is an update to my annual series on one of the most under-reported stories of the decade: the fraction of college freshmen who report no religious preference has tripled since 1985, from 8% to 24%, and the trend is accelerating.In last year's installment, I made the bold prediction… read more
In class last week, I was talking about correlation and linear regression, and I made the outrageous claim that correlation is evidence of causation. One of my esteemed colleagues, who is helping out with the class, was sitting in the back of the room, and immediately challenged my claim. It… read more
One of the frequently-asked questions over at the statistics subreddit (reddit.com/r/statistics) is how to test whether a dataset is drawn from a particular distribution, most often the normal distribution.There are standard tests for this sort of thing, many with double-barreled names like Anderson-Darling, Kolmogorov-Smirnov, Shapiro-Wilk, Ryan-Joiner, etc.But these tests are… read more
I am happy to announce that I will be offering my tutorial, "Bayesian Statistics Made Simple" at PyCon 2014 in Montreal. The tutorial is based on material from Think Bayes. It includes some of the examples and exercises in the book. Participants will work on examples during the workshop, so… read more
I got Leslie Valiant's new book, Probably Approximately Correct, for Christmas. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was not familiar with the author, especially since he won the Turing Award in 2010. But I wasn't, and that led to a funny sequence of thoughts, which leads to an interesting problem… read more
Last week I attended the Computer-Based Mathematics Education Summit in New York City, run by Wolfram Research and hosted at UNICEF headquarters.The motivation behind the summit is explained by Conrad Wolfram in this TED talk. His idea is that mathematical modeling almost always involves these steps:Posing the right question.Taking a… read more
Webcast: There's Only One Test October 04, 2011
Can I use a t-test if my data are non-normal? What if the sample size is small? What's an exact test? And how many tests are there, anyway? People working with real data are often confused about hypothesis testing and paralyzed by the number of tests...
Webcast: Bayesian Statistics Made Simple October 26, 2012
Join Allen Downey, author of Think Stats: Probability and Statistics for Programmers for an introduction to Bayesian statistics using Python. Bayesian statistical methods are becoming more common and more important, but there are not many resources...
"This book is a quick and easy introduction to programming and to Python. It is among the clearest introductions to both topics that I have seen in a long time."
--Andrew Binstock, Dr. Dobbs
"The author does an excellent job talking about the different systems and programs that are used in this career. This would also be a great textbook if your in school learning what your doing in the programming field."
--Stephaine Szostak, cybertron reviews
"I highly recommend this text for a first course in Computer Science at both secondary and university levels. It is as its title suggests an introduction to Python for Thinkers."
--Ira Laefsky, Amazon.com
"If Professor Downey ever opens an online class for "Think Complexity" either synchronized or on UDemy I would sign up in a heartbeat."
--Eric Chou, Amazon.com
"This short but extremely exciting book is simultaneously an invitation to actively participate in what Stephen Wolfram has called "A New Kind of Science", and an introduction to "Data Structures" (what traditionally has been the second course in Computer Science) with an exciting new motivation."