BI230 Biostatistics
Mo We 3:00-4:30 PM in Higgins Hall 265.


Instructor: Peter Clote, PhD, DSc, Higgins 577, clote@bc.edu, Extension: 21332, Office hours: Mon 2-3 and Thur 4-5 pm in Higgins 577.


Course description | Text | Grading policy | Academic Integrity Policy | Syllabus | Homework | Class Notes | Demos | Tests

Course Description

BI230 Biostatistics trains students to comprehend, critique, and communicate research findings from biomedical literature. Topics from statistics include elementary probability theory, standard distributions (binomial, geometric, normal, exponential, Poisson), random variables, expectation, variance, hypothesis testing, significance tests, confidence intervals, regression, correlation, and statistical learning theory.

Since the focus is on biologically relevant applications, this course will not be as mathematically oriented as courses in probability and statistics taught in the Mathematics Department. Since calculus provides an essential foundation for understanding the validity and range of application of statistics (and since all biology majors are required to take calculus), we will explain the underlying ideas of statistical formulas using calculus. (Statistics can be tedious and formulas can be difficult to remember if one does not understand the underlying mathematical rationale.) Microsoft Excel will be used for graphical and statistical analysis.

The goal of this course is to master fundamental statistical methods and to know how and when to apply these techniques to problems arising in health and life sciences.

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Reading

Required Text
  1. Biostatistics for the Biological and Health Sciences , by Marc M. Triola and Mario F. Triola. Pearson, Addison Wesley, ISBN 0-321-19436-5 (2006).
After completing this course, if you are interested in pursuing biostatistics, then the following (optional) books are useful references.

Suggested Reading

  1. The Cartoon Guide to Statistics, by Larry Gonick and Woollcott Smith, ISBN 0-06-273102-5 (1993). A delightful and amusing introduction to statistics, this book presents an overview of the main concepts from statistics with no mathematics at all. This book gives the big picture (the forest instead of the trees), and can be helpful for mathaphobics.
  2. Probability theory: A concise course, Y.A. Rozanov, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-63544-9 (1969). This is an elegant , concise classical text written by a world-class mathematician. The book includes Markov chains, Markov processes and branching processes.
  3. Principles of Statistics, M.G. Bulmer, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-63760-3 (1979). This is a concise book that covers essentially the same topics of BI230, but in a somewhat more rigorous manner. Some of the problems presented in the book are drawn from examination questions at Oxford University.
  4. Mathematica Laboratories for Mathematical Statistics - Emphasizing simulation and computer intensive methods, Jenny A. Baglivo, American Statistical Association (ASA) and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), ISBN 0-89871-566-0 (2005). This book is a well-written, concise treatment of the main topics from BI230, and includes a CD with well-conceived problems for solution with Mathematica.
  5. Fundamentals of Biostatistics, Fourth Edition, by Bernard Rosner, Belmont, California: Wadsworth (1995). This is a popular text for undergraduate and graduate students in biological and health sciences.
  6. Biostatistical Analysis, Jerrold H. Zar, ISBN 0-13-081542-X, Prentice-Hall (1999). This book is an encyclopedic reference, of value to practicing statisticians and graduate students.

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Grading Policy

Class attendance is mandatory. Homework will be assigned on a weekly basis. Odd-numbered exercises have answers at the back of the book. Chapter tests will be given weekly or biweekly. Unless there are serious circumstances, that are explained in a dean's letter, no chapter tests will be made up -- this means that missed tests will be scored with 0. The breakdown of points is given as follows (please note, that percentages may be changed during course of semester, in which case you will receive ample notification)..

Homework, class participation 10%
Chapter tests 60%
Final Exam 30%

Policy concerning telephones, calculators, etc.

All telephones must be turned off and be kept in your bag or backpack during class. Unless otherwise instructed, no calculators or computers may be used during examinations.

Academic Integrity Policy

Boston College values the academic integrity of its students and faculty. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the university’s policy on academic integrity . If you have any questions, always consult your professor.

Violations of academic integrity will be reported to your class dean and judged by the academic integrity committee in your school. If you are found responsible for violating the policy, penalties may include a failing grade as well as possible probation, suspension, or expulsion, depending on the seriousness and circumstances of the violation.

Violations of academic integrity will be reported to your class dean and judged by the academic integrity committee in your school. If you are found responsible for violating the policy, penalties may include a failing grade as well as possible probation, suspension, or expulsion, depending on the seriousness and circumstances of the violation.

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Tentative Syllabus

The following syllabus is approximate and subject to change.

Statistics invariably requires a tool for number crunching. In class, we will learn how to use various statistical functions in Excel, which allows easy modification if minor changes are necessary when solving problems. Another advantage of Excel is that you are likely to have access to Excel in the workplace, and your co-workers will be familiar with Excel.

In-class chapter tests and the final examination will be given in our classroom, Higgins 265.

For purposes of the test, you may purchase a scientific calculator, such as a CVS or Casio scientific calculator with functions for permutations, combinations, stdev, etc. Due to the diversity of types of calculator and to the fact that we will learn Excel functions in class, you will individually be responsible for learning how to use your calculator, if you purchase one.