|December 11, 2013|
10:15 - 10:50 a.m. Craig Fraser (University of Toronto)
10:50 - 11:25 a.m.
Understanding statistical ideas helps us make sense of the torrent of information we face in our daily lives. One of the most important statistical principles is not mathematical in character. It is the principle that to understand data you need to know how it was obtained. Data, on its own, says very little. We need to develop the habit of digging below the surface to find out how a sample was obtained in a survey; how treatments were assigned in an experiment. The widely known adage 'correlation is not causation' expresses the danger of causal conclusions based on non-experimental data. However, a rigid insistence on randomized experiments for causal inference might be as problematic as the uncritical misinterpretation of correlations. The importance of a balanced view is well illustrated by the history of R. A. Fisher's contributions to statistics. Fisher is one of the leading statisticians and scientists of the 20th century who developed the theory and practice of randomized experiments in the 1920s and 30s. His contributions have had an enormous impact on research in almost every field. However, in the 1950s and early 60s, his insistence on randomized experiments for causal inference led him to mount an energetic defense of tobacco in the face of mounting non-experimental evidence of its harmful effects. The story of Fisher's apparent failure to find the right balance serves as a poignant illustration of important issues in causal inference.
Biography: Georges Monette is an Associate Professor in
the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at York University.
He obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in statistical
inference. He has had a long association with York's Statistical
Consulting Service and has worked on applications of statistics
in a wide range of disciplines. Consulting is a form of teaching
in which complex concepts need to be conveyed to collaborators and
clients who often have little statistical and mathematical background.
In addition to teaching academic courses, he teaches workshops on
statistical visualization and longitudinal data analysis.
I will try to answer the questions in the title of this talk in the spirit of the late Kenneth May.
Biography: Degrees from Stanford University and University
of Toronto. Taught at McMaster University and University of Toronto.
Author of many high school and university mathematics textbooks,
translated into a dozen languages.
Angelica Mendaglio (McMaster University)
The human stories behind mathematics are too often omitted from the classroom. There is no better way to make a student feel that they are having a subject be imposed upon them than by presenting it as a sequence of facts listed by textbooks. Mathematical problems have captivated the minds of some of history's most creative, brilliant and interesting characters - what better way to motivate a student to engage with a mathematical object than by introducing them to these minds and these problems? I will be discussing some of the human stories behind mathematics and the reasons why students want to know them.
Biography: Angelica Mendaglio is currently a Master's student
at McMaster University. She became enthralled by pure mathematics
and, in particular, abstract algebra during her time as an undergraduate
student at Trent University, and has since become interested in
mathematics education as a means through which to bring this joy
and beauty in mathematics to the public eye.
Biography: Five years as a computer programmer and technical
writer. Twenty-six years as a math/computer science teacher at high
school level. Two years as a computer science lecturer at York University.
Currently, adjunct faculty at Nova Southeastern University, teaching
an online Master's course in math education and supervising Ed.D.
I will discuss the math content of the two Newton's books owned by McMaster University (Opticks and Universal Artihmetick). What are they about? What are Newton's thoughts on teaching math? Based on Newton's Opticks, a few instructors created a learning object -- to help students to discover and explore the complex mind of Isaac Newton. I will discuss a rationale for its construction, as well as a critique of its use in mathematics and beyond.
Biography: Miroslav Lovric is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McMaster University. His areas of research interest include differential geometry, modeling in medicine and biology, mathematics education and connections between art, mathematics and architecture. Besides publishing in his research areas, Miroslav published textbooks on vector calculus and mathematics for life sciences, and is presently working on a book about mosaics and symmetry.
2:00 p.m. Adjournment