BIOL2300 Biostatistics
Tu Th 10:30-12:00 in Higgins Hall 225.


Instructor: Prof. Peter Clote, Higgins 577, clote@bc.edu, Extension: x21332, Office hours: Tu 2-3 and Thur 2-3 pm in Higgins 577.
TA: To be announced.
Amir Bayegan, Higgins 581, bayegan@bc.edu, Extension: x21342, Office hours: Wed 2-3 and Fri 2-3 pm in Higgins 581.


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

Course Description

This course will introduce biology students to the basic statistical techniques that are used in conducting biological and medical research. The course is divided into four parts: (1) descriptive statistics (averages, variability); (2) probability and probability distributions (basic probability theory and the binomial, poison, and normal distributions); (3) statistical inference (parametric and non-parametric tests); and, (4) relationships between variables (simple and multiple regression). Students will become familiar with a standard statistical analysis software package and will critique actual research papers.


Textbook, calculator and software

Statistics invariably requires a tool for number crunching. For all tests, you will need a scientific calculator with statistical functions (average, standard deviation, permutations, combinations, T-test, correlation, regression, 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 scientific calculator. For the homework, and for in-class demos, we will use statistical functions in Excel. One advantage of using Excel is that you are likely to have access to Excel in the workplace, regardless of where you work, and your co-workers will be familiar with Excel. Additionally, we may use Mathematica which produces beautiful graphics and includes a host of built-in functions; moreover, BC has a site license, so you can download Mathematica here.


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. Possibly unannounced quizzes will be given -- if you are absent when a quiz is given, then the grade will be 0 (unless you can provide a letter from the dean or a doctor). Dates for the two midterm examinations are given.

Again, any absence from a quiz or test earns a grade of 0, which can not be made up without a letter from the dean. 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%
Unannounced quizzes 10%
Midterms 1 and 2 50%
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

Any work handed in with your name on it is presumed to be your own work. This applies to ALL coursework, including homework assignments, final projects, and tests. Any deviation from this policy, can immediately result in a course grade of "F" and be turned over to the Board of Academic Integrity for a hearing. Please refer to BC Acdademic Integrity Policy for more details concerning the university academic integrity policy.


Tentative Syllabus

The following syllabus is approximate and subject to change. In-class tests will be announced.

  1. Aug 29, 31: Chapters 1,2,3: course introduction, basic notions, sampling, frequency, relative frequency, cumulative frequency, constructing a histogram, constructing a relative frequency histogram.

  2. Sep 5, 7: Chapter 4, elementary probability, Venn diagrams and counting, Bayes theorem, mortality rate, absolute and relative risk.

  3. Sep 12, 14: Chapter 5, discrete probability distribution, random variable, Bernouilli trial, binomial distribution, expectation is additive, variance is additive provided independence holds.

  4. Sep 19, 21: Chapter 5 (continuation), additional discrete probability distributions, hypergeometric distribution, Poisson distribution, geometric distribution, multinomial distribution

  5. Sep 26, 28: Chapter 6, continuous probability distribution, uniform distribution, normal distribution.

  6. Oct 3, 5: Continuation of Chapter 6, continuity correction, approximating the binomial distribution by the normal distribution, central limit theorem, exponential distribution, Boltzmann distribution.

  7. Oct 10, 12: Concluding remarks on Chapter 6, review for Midterm 1. WARNING: MIDTERM 1 on Oct 12, covering chapters 1-6 inclusively.

  8. Oct 17, 19: Conclusion of material on Chapter 6 that was not covered on Midterm 1. Chapter 7, point estimates for proportion.

  9. Oct 24, 26: Chapter 7, point estimates for proportion and mean (both when the population standard deviation is known, and when it is unknown), T-distribution, sample size for estimation of proportion and mean. Go over answers to Midterm 1.

  10. Oct 31, Nov 2: Chapter 7, point estimates variance and standard deviation, chi-square distribution, sample size for variance estimation. Chapter 8, hypothesis testing with one sample, Z-score, T-test, type I and II error (false positives, false negatives)

  11. Nov 7, 9: Chapter 9, hypothesis testing with two samples, T-test.

  12. Nov 14, 16: Chapter 10, correlation and regression

  13. Nov 21, 23: WARNING: MIDTERM 2 on Tues Nov 21, covering chapters 7-10 inclusively. Unexcused absence from Midterm 2 on Nov 21 earns a ZERO, and no make-up will be allowed - the only exceptions are major issues that arise (deaths in the family, hospitalization, etc.) for which a letter from the Dean is required. In other words, please do NOT plan to return home on Nov 21, since this is a class day and you are responsible for whatever is due that day. Thanksgiving break Wed-Fri Nov 22-24.

  14. Nov 28, 30: Chapter 11, multinomial experiment, goodness-of-fit, contingency tables

  15. Dec 5, 7: Chapter 13, non-parametric statistical tests, Wilcoxon signed-ranks test for matched pairs, Wilcoxon rank-sum test

  16. FINAL EXAMINATION on Mon, Dec 18 starting at 9:00 a.m. in Higgins 225