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Some students prefer to have a textbook from which they can learn and to which they can turn to help explain concepts. Some instructors prefer having a textbook to provide additional material and homework assignments. In this section there are no such homework assignments from a textbook. Nonetheless, it is important to at least point you to possible textbooks.

There is an "official" textbook for this course. As of Fall 2015, this was Elementary Statistics by Navidi/Monk, published by MCG CUSTOM. The ISBN for the book is 9780077762841, and this is the 13th Edition. In the WCC bookstore this should cost about $85.75 - $114.30. This is actually quite a good book. It covers all of our topics and does so in a fairly straight forward manner. In addition, the book contains helpful guides on how to do the statistical computations using a TI-83/84 calculator, or using Excel, or using Minitab. You might note that the book does not cover using the R language to do statistical work.

The previous textbook is just a modified version of Elementary Statistics by Navidi/Monk, published by MCG CUSTOM. The ISBN for the book is 0077762843, and this is the 1st Edition. You could look for this on-line or at other bookstores.

An alternative textbook is OpenIntro Statistics, the 3rd Edition, available on-line, at no cost, at This book (site) has almost no coverage for descriptive statistics, but it does a good job of presenting inferential statistics.

Another alternative text is Applied Statistics, also available on-line at no cost. [Note that the process for getting this book includes you identifying your email, your area of interest/study, and the university you are attending. Washtenaw Community College is not in that list, but there is no harm in selecting the name of the university that you want to attend after WCC.] This book does cover probability, descriptive, and inferential statistics.

Finally, there is the no cost approach of just using my web pages which will present all of the material needed for the course.


Inferential statistics is based on probabilities, some of which are quite complex. Therefore, teachers of statistics, and authors of statistics books would provide many tables of precomputed probabilities. It is still nice to look at such tables in order to get a feel for certain probability distributions, but, as we will see in the course, the calculations needed to arrive at the values in those tables will be done by our tools (calculators or computers) or we can always find the appropriate tables on-line. In fact, we will be looking at a number of on-line tables later in the course. At this point it is sufficient to point out that one does not need the textbook just to have the tables that are in it.


For many years this course has been taught with students using a TI-83/84 calculator. Such an advanced calculator is capable of doing virtually all of the computations needed for an introductory statistics course. There are, however, two huge limitations to the use of the calculator for doing real statistics. First, there is no nice way to get data into the calculator. In the overview presentation for this course we looked at five different values for each of 13,856 credit students at WCC in a particular semester. In fact, you were provided with a link to the file that contains all of that information. Even if we only wanted to look at the first 50 of those lines of data, there is no nice way to read the data into the calculator without entering it one character at a time. Second, as you might have guessed, the calculator cannot "hold" and "deal" with that large amounts of data. Thus, even if we typed the data into the calculator, at some point, early on in the process, we would run out of room on the device. The TI-83/84 calculators are amazing in terms of demonstrating on small sets of data the computations needed for statistics; they are useless in terms of doing any large analysis.


Computers have been used to do statistical analyses for well over six decades. However, the availability and ease of use of computers for such tasks has changed dramatically in that time. Some of us have been using computers for so long that we can remember using 80-column cards to hold data that we punched onto the cards and read into the computer via a card reader. [FYI: the 13,856 lines of data in our example from the Overview page would have been coded on 13,856 cards, taking up almost 7 full boxes of cards. It would have taken minutes to read in all of the cards.] Or, we would wait to receive the 2400 foot, 9-track computer tape that contained census data from the government that we could then mount on a tape reader and read the data into the computer. [FIU: the 13,856 lines of data in our example would have taken less than 7 feet of the 2400 foot tape, and it would have been read in less than 5 seconds -- once the particular 7 feet was found on the tape.] Now, I can store the data on a USB drive where the 13,856 lines of data would require 343,478 bytes of data, not even 0.0022% of a 16 gigabyte drive, and a PC would read that data in less than a second.

The advantage of the computers has always been that they can hold large amounts of data, they can get that data by automated means, and they can process that data in almost no time. Any real statistical work is done on computers.

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©Roger M. Palay     Saline, MI 48176     September, 2015