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Beginning Statistics With Data Analysis

Frederick Mosteller, Stephen Fienberg, and Robert E. K. Rourke
Dover Publications
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The Basic Library List Committee suggests that undergraduate mathematics libraries consider this book for acquisition.

[Reviewed by
William J. Satzer
, on

The first thing I noticed about this introduction to statistics is how fresh it looks, as if it were just newly published and wasn’t actually more than thirty years old. Dover has done a particularly good job in this unabridged republication; the book is attractive and inviting.

When the book first appeared it was a pioneer, particularly in its use of exploratory data analysis. Now many, if not most, introductory books follow this approach. It is difficult, however, to match the high level of exposition found here. Fienberg, who wrote the introduction to this edition, says that his co-authors insisted on the Particular-General-Particular (PGP) approach: begin with a practical example to capture the student’s interest, continue to the general point, and end with a particular example to emphasize the general point. Although it sounds a little mechanical, it is practiced here to great effect.

None of the topics here is surprising — probably every one of them can be found in comparable textbooks in use today. When the book was written, access to computers was rather limited, so the authors chose to write as if students had access to statistical software (like Minitab) but not to link the text to any specific package. This gives an instructor a lot of leeway in choosing when and how to incorporate discussion and use of software.

This book would support several different kinds of introductory courses. These could include, for example, a more traditional probability and statistics course, a data analysis and data collection course, or an exploratory data analysis course. The authors also include enough material to support a second course focusing on analysis of variance and regression. The only prerequisite to get started is a modest level of comfort with high school algebra.

The book is filled with lively examples from many different fields and many good exercises. It would be a pleasure to teach using it.

Bill Satzer ( is a senior intellectual property scientist at 3M Company, having previously been a lab manager at 3M for composites and electromagnetic materials. His training is in dynamical systems and particularly celestial mechanics; his current interests are broadly in applied mathematics and the teaching of mathematics.

The table of contents is not available.