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Oxford Dictionary of Statistics

Graham Upton and Ian Cook
Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Sarah Boslaugh
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The Oxford Dictionary of Statistics, recent released in its second revised edition, is an admirably clear and concise guide to terminology used in statistics, probability and computing (over 2000 entries), plus entries on famous statisticians and major professional societies and journals. Entries include formulas and graphics as appropriate, and a symbol identifies those which have have web links on the book’s home page.

The entries in the Oxford Dictionary are admirably clear and jargon-free, and this volume will be particularly useful to students. I find the entries in general to assume less background knowledge than corresponding definitions in a similar book, The Cambridge Dictionary of Statistics. The length of individual entries ranges from one sentence to about a page and a half, and many entries include cross-references to related concepts so it is possible to build up basic knowledge of a topic beginning from any number of different entry points. An excerpt from the text is available at the OUP web site.

Seventeen appendices are included in the Oxford Dictionary. These include guides to statistical and mathematical notation, a table of Greek letters and what they stand for in math and statistics, probability or critical value tables for the most common statistics, a pseudo-random number table, a timeline of important events in statistics, a table of the winners of major statistical prizes, and a brief bibliography.

Graham Upton is Professor of Applied Statistics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Essex and has given lecture courses at the Universities of Dokkyo (Tokyo, Grenoble, Michigan, and ITAM (Mexico). He has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications, including Understanding Statistics (1996), Introducing Statistics (1998) and Statistics S1 and S2 (2004, 2005). Ian Cook was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Essex until taking early retirement in 1985. He was also Chief Examiner in A Level Mathematics for 30 years and is co-author with Graham Upton of Understanding Statistics, Introducing Statistics, and Statistics S1 and S2.

Sarah Boslaugh ( is a Performance Review Analyst for BJC HealthCare and an Adjunct Instructor in the Washington University School of Medicine, both in St. Louis, MO. Her books include An Intermediate Guide to SPSS Programming: Using Syntax for Data Management (Sage, 2004), Secondary Data Sources for Public Health: A Practical Guide (Cambridge, 2007), and Statistics in a Nutshell (with Paul Watters; O'Reilly, 2008), and she served as Editor-in-Chief for The Encyclopedia of Epidemiology (Sage, 2008).


Abbreviations in biographies 
Statistical Notation 
Mathematical Notation 
Greek Letters 
Cumulative Probabilities for the Binomial Distribution 
Cumulative Probabilities for the Poisson Distribution 
Upper-Tail Percentage Points for the Standard Normal Distribution 
The Standard Normal Distribution Function 
Percentage Points for the t-Distribution 
Percentage Points for the F-Distribution 
Percentage Points for the Chi-Squared Distribution 
Critical Values for Spearman's Rank Correlation Coefficient 
Critical Values for Kendall 
Critical Values for the Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient, r 
Pseudo-Random Numbers 
Selected Landmarks in the Development of Statistics 
Honours and Awards 
Further Reference