Category Archives: In The News

2015 Illinois Statistics Symposium – A Celebration of the Department’s 30th Anniversary

2015 Illinois Statistics Symposium: A Celebration of the Department’s 30th Anniversary



The symposium offers our alumni a great opportunity to return to the University of Illinois to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Statistics Department and to meet with many of their classmates, professors, and colleagues in a warm and friendly setting.



Date: Saturday, November 21, 2015

Time: All day, beginning at 9:00 AM

Location: I-Hotel & Conference Center, Lincoln Room

Sponsor: Department of Statistics



For more information, including a detailed agenda, please click the link below to view this event on our calendar.


‘The Big Picture with Kal Penn’ Looks at the Data Driving the Stories

[Article courtesy of CCASA newsletter]

It’s truly a sign of the times when Kal Penn, who is normally known as Kumar (from the “Harold and Kumar” movies), sets aside the White Castle burgers to instead star as a ‘statistics-wielding socio-scientific analyst’ in The National Geographic Channel’s new show, “The Big Picture with Kal Penn”.

Is it perhaps a sign of the Big Data fervor affecting even TV and movies? Or is it a sign that statisticians are to become more popular than Hollywood movie stars? We’ll have to wait and see!

Statistics is the Fastest-Growing Undergrad STEM Degree

(Article courtesy of the Chicago Chapter of the American Statistical Association newsletter)

The ASA analyzed data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and found that Statistics is the fastest-growing undergrad STEM degree, even ahead of Computer Science. Overall, the number of statistics bachelor’s degrees has grown from 526 in 2003 to 1,678 in 2013.

Surprised? Probably not. The Big Data/data science hype is certainly having an effect on education programs, and no doubt influencing students to choose Statistics due to the hot job market. It probably doesn’t hurt that “statistical analysis and data mining” were ranked #1 on LinkedIn’s list of the 25 hottest skills.


An Important Data Lesson from an Inconsequential Football Scandal

(Articles courtesy of the CCASA newsletter)

Those of you that watched the Super Bowl this year may have heard of the “scandal” that erupted in the weeks before it involving the New England Patriots and deflated footballs, which the media promptly christened “DeflateGate”, and then proceeded to report it to death.

Opinions on the media cycle aside, one of the unfortunate circumstances to rise out of the scandal were some truly tortured and wildly inaccurate uses of statistics, including, as this article from the Harvard Business Review astutely points out, some causal leaps inferred from correlations in the data. The article drives home an important lesson that our media seems to frequently ignore: correlation does not equal causation.

On that note, “DeflateGate” serves as a great reminder that the American Statistical Association has Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice.


Vicente Mundo

We mourn the tragic loss of Vicente Mundo who was a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign working towards a degree in Statistics. Our hearts go out to his family and to all of his friends. We hope in this time of sorrow that joyful memories of his life will bring some comfort.

Faculty and Staff
Department of Statistics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


The Best Way to End an Awkward Conversation, According to Statistics

Chances are, at some point in your life you’ve been trapped in an unwanted conversation with someone, and had to figure out how to escape as gracefully as possible. If you’ve ever wondered what’s the most efficient way to exit a conversation without offending the other party, then you’re in luck.

In 1989 a graduate student at San Jose University conducted a study comparing 350 different “conversational retreat tactics” and compared them based on how effective/non-effective they are, as well as how socially acceptable/unacceptable they are.

Click here to read the Washington Post article about the study, or to enlarge the graph above. To read the student’s 100+ page Master’s Theses on the subject click here