ECS 132, Winter 2015
Nature of the Course (the Way I Teach It):
Value of the Course:
- Statistics is used in almost any technical field.
- In CS in particular, statistics is central to the
fastest-growing specialities, such as Big Data, machine learning
Challenge of the Course:
- This is a MATH course.
- Even the programming problems (Homework, Quizzes) are
actually "math problems in disguise."
- The course makes heavy use of calculus and LINEAR ALGEBRA.
- This is NOT a "formula plugging" course, nor does it consist
of learning patterns to mimic. Every problem is different.
- Most students do well in the first 1/3 of the course, which
involves only discrete probability.
- The second 1/3 of the course uses calculus, and the last
1/3 uses linear algebra. Students with a good intuitive
understanding of those subjects thrive, while some others
find the material quite difficult.
- Contrary to what you might guess (say, based on high school
AP Statistics), the most challenging part of the course is the
last 1/3, involving statistics. Good math intuition is crucial
- If you did well in calculus word problems ("Water is flowing
into a conical tank...accelerating at a rate of...with leakage
rate of..."), you should do well in this course.
Content of the Course:
- Similar to STA 131AB, but with CS applications and
- No midterms or final. (Group project in lieu of final.)
- Quizzes are given in discussion section EVERY WEEK.
- There is a special Quiz on the last day of lecture.
- Quiz problems will often refer to specific pages in the
book. (Open book Quizzes.)
It is REQUIRED that you read the textbook, in complete
detail. Plan on SEVERAL HOURS of dense reading per week!
- Quiz scores tend to be low, but letter grades are generous.
Quiz 6 of Fall 2013 are typical in content and style. In each
case, 40/100 was the cutoff for a B-.
- Quizzes form 60% of your course grade.
- 4-5 assignments during the quarter.
- Homework is done in GROUPS.
- Grading is done INTERACTIVELY.
- TA will ask each members of the Group questions, both about
the assignment and about the course material in general. Each
Group member receives a separate grade.
- Homework counts 40% of your course grade.
- The textbook is open source, i.e. FREE.
- It is downloadable from the Web, and you must print it
yourself at a copying shop of your choice.
- You must have your own (not shared) HARD COPY of
the entire textbook, and bring it to all Lectures and Quizzes.
- The textbook is not ready yet, as I'm still revising. See
- It is expected that the student be NON-PASSIVE in
Most of the student learning comes from reading the
textbook in very careful detail.
- I used to lecture in the traditional way -- I spend time
writing on the board, you spend time copying it to paper.
- Then I realized, "What a colossal waste!" So, now I give
you the printed notes, so you and I can spend the time
discussing the material.
- So, in lecture, we DISCUSS the book. I almost never write on
the board, nor do I have Powerpoint slides.
- It is NOT recommended that students read the book ahead of
the lecture. In the lecture,
I prepare you to do the reading.
- Goals of the lecture:
- Clarify issues brought up by students concerning reading
related to the last lecture.
- Prepare students for the next reading material, by giving
an overview of what the material will do, and going into the
more difficult examples in detail .