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October 15, 2010 — U of T to join in celebrations of World Statistics Day on October 20

by Sean Bettam — Friday, Oct 15, 2010

October 15, 2010

The Department of Statistics will mark World Statistics Day on October 20th with a lecture titled "Statistics in the Headlines" by U of T professor Jeffrey Rosenthal, author of Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities

Statistics and probability have appeared in the news with greater and greater frequency in recent memory. From the heated political debates about whether violent crime is increasing, opinion polls about the upcoming mayoral election and the spike in Toronto pedestrian deaths last January, to fascination with the odds of winning huge Lotto Max jackpots, unexpected outrage about excessive lottery "insider wins" and the surprisingly high-profile summer controversy about cancelling the long-form census, statistics play a bigger role in daily life than one might think.

"Most statisticians work on specialized projects of interest to just a small number of people, which makes it easy to forget just how important statistical data and analysis have become in so many walks of life," said Rosenthal. "So many of our modern news stories — from lotteries to crime to the census debate — have an underlying connection to probabilities and randomness, as a careful reading of the headlines will show."

World Statistics Day is a global event sponsored by the United Nations to acknowledge and celebrate the role of statistics in the social and economic development of our societies, as proclaimed by UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. Celebrations the world over will acknowledge the service provided by the global statistical system at national and international levels, and help strengthen the awareness and trust of the public in official statistics. Organizers hope that the day serves as an advocacy tool to further support the work of statisticians across different settings, cultures, and domains.

Rosenthal's lecture is at 4 pm in Room 2117, Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St. George Street.  All are welcome with free admission. Visit the World Statistics Day website for full details about events planned around the world.