Probability and Statistical Methods for Science

Course Outline 2001-2002


Dr P. D. M. Macdonald




905 525 9140 x 23423 (24-hour Voice Mail)



Monday, Thursday: 10:30-11:30
Tuesday: 14:30-15:30.

Other times by appointment.

Don't hesitate to contact me by telephone, voice mail, or e-mail any time you need help. If you need to see me at any time and my office door is open, I will see you then if I can, or arrange a time to meet later.

When you are working on assignments, I will spend some time walking around the BSB computer labs, and I will be pleased to talk to you about the course and offer help with computing.


Each student should be assigned to a tutorial group. To change your tutorial or sign up for a tutorial, go to BSB-B154A; make a choice from the information on the bulletin board and fill out the form provided.

Use the tutorials to get help working through problems and examples in detail. Do as many problems as you can; there is no other way to learn this material!

The first four tutorials will be held in the BSB computer lab, to assist students in learning R.

You must have a valid userid, password and laser printing account for the BSB computer lab before your first tutorial.


Learn the language and logic of statistics and gain confidence in the application of statistical methods to problems of practical interest, with emphasis on the biological and health sciences.

Learn Analysis of Variance for one-way and two-way experimental designs, and for simple linear regression with pure error and a lack of fit test.

Lay the foundations for learning advanced statistical methods after you complete this course.

Become comfortable with using calculators and computers to facilitate statistical analysis. Learn how to use statistical software packages, with emphasis on the R language and environment. Learn how to display data graphically on the computer. Get some practice in manipulating large data sets. Learn to organize your results neatly into reports.


Rosner, B. A. Fundamentals of Biostatistics, Fifth Edition, Duxbury Press.

This book will be useful as a statistics and biostatistics handbook after you graduate.

Rosner, B. A. Study Guide for Fundamentals of Biostatistics, Fifth Edition, Duxbury Press.

The Study Guide is optional but will be very useful as a source of additional problems and worked examples.

If you want a reference text that shows how to use the R language and environment for a wide range of statistical analyses from simple to advanced, I recommend

Spector, P. An Introduction to S and S-Plus, Duxbury.

While Spector refers to S and Splus, all of his examples will run in R without modification.


You will already have covered much of the material in Chapters 1-8 in the prerequisite course Statistics 1CC3. As we review these topics, expect more attention to detail and theoretical foundations than you had before. If you have a good understanding of the principles involved here, you will have no difficulty with the rest of the course.

Chapters 9-13 cover the most commonly-used methods of biostatistics. How much we can cover will depend on the time available, but should include one-factor analysis of variance, two-factor analysis of variance, simple linear regression with pure error and a lack of fit test, multiple regression, contingency tables, and nonparametric methods.


Copies of the lecture notes will be available in the Thode Library.


Students are required to use computers in this course. Previous experience with computers and spreadsheets is expected. The undergraduate computer labs in BSB support Excel, MINITAB, SAS, SPSS, Splus, R, MatLab and Microsoft Word.

Students will be expected to learn and use R, a reliable, powerful language and environment for statistical calculation. It is similar to the commercially available Splus, but is freely distributed as open code. Students can download and install the Windows or Macintosh versions of R on their own computers.


Although spreadsheets and statistics packages are replacing calculators for statistical work, you will still need a pocket calculator for small problems, tests and the final examination. There is no restriction on what calculator may be used for tests and exams in this course. However, you should have a pocket calculator that can accept data in X-Y pairs and fit a simple linear regression. The McMaster Standard Calculator is recommended.


It is each student's responsibility to keep up to date with the course by working ahead in the text. Each chapter of the text has worked examples and lots of problems.

Three assignments will be handed in for grading. Some of the assignment questions will involve the large (and often messy!) data sets on the data disk that accompanies the text; this will give you some experience in "real-world" applications of statistics.

Please submit your assignments by placing them in the box marked for your tutorial group, in the basement corridor of BSB.


2001-01-31 (Thursday)

19:00 - 20:00


2001-03-07 (Thursday)

19:00 - 20:00


2001-03-21 (Thursday)

19:00 - 20:00


Aids permitted:

Please see me the week before the test if you have a conflict, and I will arrange another time for you, the next morning (Friday) at 08:30 or 09:30.


There will be a formal 3-hour examination in April.

Aids permitted:


Total marks on all three assignments will be counted. All three tests will be counted, weighed equally. The final mark will be the best of the following four calculations:

   (A) 100% Exam;
   (B) 80% Exam + 20% Assignments;
   (C) 80% Exam + 20% Tests;
   (D) 60% Exam + 20% Assignments + 20% Tests.

I will review all "borderline" marks and possibly make further adjustments.


We remind you of the Statement on Academic Ethics and the Senate Resolutions on Academic Dishonesty found in the Senate Policy Statements distributed at registration and available in the Senate Office. Any student who infringes one of these resolutions will be treated according to published policy.

Statistics 2MA3
Last updated 2002-01-22 22:17