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A Panorama of Statistics by Peter Petocz, Eric Sowey

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26 Answers to the chapter questions

Answers – Chapter 1

Question 1.1

a) John Edmund Kerrich (1903–1985) was born in England, and emigrated to South Africa in 1904. After tertiary studies in South Africa and the UK, he joined Witwatersrand University as a Lecturer in Mathematics in 1929, being promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1935. In 1934, he married a woman of Danish parentage, and was on a visit to her family in Copenhagen in 1940 when the Nazi invasion of Denmark occurred. He was interned by the Nazis in a prison camp in Jutland from 1940 to 1945. It was as a pastime during this period of internment that he performed the 10,000 coin tosses and other experiments for which he has become renowned in the statistical literature.

After the War, he published the results of these experiments in a short book (Kerrich, 1946). Reviews can be found in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A of 1947 (page 74) and the Journal of the American Statistical Association of 1949 (page 147). The book was apparently later reprinted by the University of Witwatersrand Press. Kerrich became the Foundation Professor of Statistics at Witwatersrand University in 1957, retiring in 1971. A short biography, including a photo, was published in the South African Statistical Journal, 7(2), 1973, 82–83.

b) We prepared FIGURE 1.1 from Kerrich’s original data, as given on page 274 of Freedman, Pisani and Purves (2007). Over all the 10,000 coin tosses, these data show the relative frequency ...

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