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Expect the Unexpected: A First Course in Biostatistics

Raluca Balan and Gilles Lamothe
World Scientific
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Miklós Bóna
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This is a very ambitious book. Its goal is to take a student who has not been exposed to elementary combinatorial enumeration techniques, to teach those techniques to the student in ten pages, then to introduce the student to discrete and continuous probability in the next 50 pages, and then to introduce the student to statistics in the remaining two-thirds of the book.

This reviewer does not believe that the combinatorial foundation discussed above is strong enough. Students almost always find counting arguments difficult when they meet them for the first time. There are many counting situations, and it is easy to confuse them with each other. It is easy to overcount or to undercount. Therefore, counting skills cannot be acquired without solving numerous exercises. Any book dealing with this topics should have lots of them, with full solutions included for many. This book has roughly ten exercises per chapter, and none of them come with answers, let alone full solutions.

For these reasons, the only class I can imagine teaching from this book would be a class for students who already know combinatorics and who want to learn probability and statistics. Such students might enjoy some of the interesting examples in the book, but on the whole, might still find the book a little bit too introductory for them.

Otherwise, instructors can just use the book as a source of interesting examples.

Miklós Bóna is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Florida.

  • Probability:
    • Introduction to Probability
    • Elementary Genetics and Probability
    • Axioms of Probability
    • Conditional Probability
    • Independence
    • Discrete Random Variables
    • Continuous Random Variables
    • Supplementary Problems (Probability)
  • Statistics:
    • Introduction to Statistics
    • Confidence Intervals
    • Hypothesis Testing
    • Comparison of Two Independent Samples
    • Paired Samples
    • Categorical Data
    • Regression and Correlation
    • Supplementary Problems (Statistics)