The FocuStat Blog!

FocuStat is a five-year project funded by the Research Council of Norway. The project group consists of five core members, along with further PhD and Master's level students and a few associated colleagues.

On this blog the members (and associated members) of the FocuStat group publish small statistical stories about interesting datasets or methods.

Some articles are in Norwegian (with an English summary), but most are in English.

Published Aug. 5, 2018 3:56 PM

Take a look around you – in your family, your school or workplace, in the streets, and you see boys & girls in about equal proportion, and without any easily visible gender patterns in case of siblings. So, to the famous first order of statistical approximation, we're all the results of hierarchical cascades of independent coin tosses through history, with each little fate determined by a 0.50-0.50 coin. This is not entirely correct, as one discovers with careful analysis and enough data: the coins of fate are (a little) imbalanced; they vary (a little) from family to family; there is a (slight) dependence in your children's gender sequence; and there are (slightly) more only-girls and only-boys families than predicted from binomial conditions. In this blog post I use the opportunity to talk also about how sample sizes influence p-values and statistical detection power.

Published July 5, 2018 11:29 PM

Quite a Feat, indeed: In their round of 16 match, about going on to a quarter-finale or being sent home, Japan scored after 48 and 52 minutes, but Belgium masterfully hit back and were able to turn the match around, with goals scored after 69 and 74 minutes and then in the very last half minute of playing time. But is this really Breaking a Curse, as Aftenposten so jubilantly and semieloquently proclaimed? In this blog post I look at the probability of seeing a 0-2 turning into 3-2, for two teams of about equal strength.

Published Feb. 27, 2018 11:54 PM

How a Tiny Nation Won the Most Medals (By Far) at the Olympics – and it turns out TIME Magazine didn't have Liechtenstein in mind (this time), even though that nation won the medals-per-capita competition. Indeed, Norway won 14 golds, 14 silver, 11 bronzes, and never before have we [pluralis proudiensis] or anyone else won as many as 39 medals at a Winter Olympics. But how impressive is this, really, when we factor in that the number of events has increased so drastically?

Published Feb. 5, 2018 9:18 PM

Everyone speaks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Certain unfairnesses of the world can however occasionally be pointed to, then formulated via crisp questions, then addressed and analysed, and in rare cases such efforts might even contribute to changing the world. In 1994 I published a report about a certain point estimate being 0.06 seconds, which then changed the Olympics; since Nagano 1998, the sprint speedskaters have had to run the 500 m twice (instead of only once). But the Olympic Unfairness Parameter is bigger for the 1000 m, so I'm humbly asking for the Winter Olympics to change its speedskating rules, once again.

Published Jan. 15, 2018 2:27 PM

Each war is dramatic and horrible and warrants a hundred history books and a thousand songs of sorrow. But it also provides one more data point, along with relevant covariates, to the collection of Tolstoyan war-and-peace data-bases, and statisticians may study the evolution of alleged decreasing violence levels over time. One of the bigger questions is both deceptively simple and quite controversial: are we getting more peaceful over time, or not?

Published Jan. 6, 2018 7:23 PM

To produce a mighty book [or perhaps a mighty blog post], you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it. Says Melville, in "Moby-Dick; or, The Whale". And in our statistical working lives, clashing with whales and international politics decidedly counts among the mightier experiences.

Published Dec. 12, 2017 5:11 PM

Some kids are cooler than others, perhaps, and in certain dramatic cases cooling a newborn can save its life. It has been demonstrated that when the neonate has been deprived of oxygen during birth, an emergency intervention involving cooling can save the life, with no loss of motoric or mental abilities later on – provided this is implemented within six hours. Is it still helpful, or not at all, when the cooling scheme (therapeutic hypothermia) starts later than six hours? Here I spell out disagreements with how a recent JAMA paper (Laptook et al., October 2017) analyse their data and interpret their findings.

Published Nov. 27, 2017 5:19 PM

Statistical inference is about drawing conclusions regarding the state of nature or society based on statistical data, statements equipped with appropriate measures of uncertainties. The Bayesian and the frequentist are the two main schools of statistical inference. These two schools agree in essence that a model specifying the distribution of the data is necessary to make inference regarding the question at hand. They disagree, however, on whether a prior distribution not based on the data is needed.

Published Nov. 22, 2017 8:05 PM

Siden vi har eller har hatt Nils Lid Hjort som veileder (Céline og Gudmund) eller biveileder (Emil) er vi selvfølgelig fullstendig inhabile når vi nå har tatt på oss jobben med å gi en omtale av boken Confidence, Likelihood, Probability (CLP) av Tore Schweder og Nils Lid Hjort. Men sånn må det vel være i et lite miljø, og heldigvis er man ikke alltid enig med sin veileder.

Published July 5, 2017 3:34 PM

Jeg ser at du smiler og jeg tenker at du er glad. På bakgrunn av en observasjon (et smil) gjør jeg en slutning om hvordan jeg tror verden er (du er glad). Få ting er så grunnleggende for oss mennesker som denne typen induktive slutninger. Vi gjør slike slutninger nesten hele tiden, hver dag, og all empirisk vitenskap innebærer å slutte fra observasjoner til hvordan man tror verden er. Faget statistikk består av matematiske formaliseringer av slike slutningsprosesser.

Published Feb. 27, 2017 2:33 PM

FocuStat-gruppen har den intensjon og tradisjon, at vi hvert år skal finne én anledning, på det store konferansekartet, der vi alle reiser (og deltar aktivt). I 2015 dro vi til ISI World Statistics Congress i Rio, komplett med sambaoid eksponering. I 2016 toppet vi dette, ved å dra til København!, til NordStat, den nordiske konferansen i matematisk statistikk, 27.-30. juni.

Published Feb. 24, 2017 8:48 AM

The Formula One event for cross-country skiers is the sprint, where the very best athletes need to go through four strenuous three-minute Olympic-intensity competitions in a row: prologue, quarterfinals, semifinals, finals. The winners, at the end of the process, seemingly have a tendency to come from the first of the two semifinals.

Published Jan. 31, 2017 10:30 PM

All men are created equal, proclaimed Jefferson in 1776 -- but some are more equal than others, added Orwell in Animal Farm. So what's the probability that two skaters are exactly equal, to the third decimal places, after four distances?

Published Jan. 3, 2017 2:43 PM

Full of adventures, battles and love stories, the chivalry romance Tirant lo Blanch is a masterpiece of medieval literature. The novel, sometimes claimed to be the world's first, is made even more fascinating by the fact that its original author died before its completion and another author had to take over. The mystery concerning where the change-of-author takes place constitutes a statistical change-point challenge.

Published Mar. 14, 2016 3:40 PM

I took part in the Johan Hjort Symposium (and even gave a dinner speech and wrote a paper later on, with Gudmund Hermansen and Olav Kjesbu). Kjesbu at the Hjort Centre for Marine Ecosystem Dynamics asked me to write up some personal reflections on this. This blog post is a mildly extended version of that note.

Published Dec. 11, 2015 5:44 PM

To begin the Christmas season, we ask an in itself unchristmassy question: what are the implications of getting a bonus roll when rolling a six on the dice in a simple dice game? Such a small tweak of the rules can be surprisingly important in determining the success of the Christmas celebrations.

Published Oct. 22, 2015 5:52 PM

14. desember 1912 fødes to jentebarn på hver sin side av jordkloden. 101 år og 11 måneder senere slutter hjertene deres å slå – med to timers mellomrom, på Lillestrøm. Hvor urimelig usannsynlig er en slik hendelse (og hva slags dramatiske, lange liv har de to levet)? På oppfordring fra journalister i A-magasinet har vi regnet på sannsynligheter relatert til denne hendelsen.

Published Oct. 6, 2015 9:33 PM

With a random selection setup, how come each of 8 games is a match between a top-league-team and a non-top-league-team?

Published Oct. 2, 2015 4:18 PM

The Game of Thrones universe is famous for its high mortality rates, but for persons belonging to the nobility the death tolls are quite similar to those of nobles living in England during the Wars of the Roses.

Published Sep. 16, 2015 11:36 AM

Det har nettopp vært kommunestyrevalg i Norge og valget i Oslo var et av de mest spennende på mange år. Slaget stod om høyresiden fikk beholde makten i hovedstaden eller om venstresiden skal ta over etter 18 år på innbytterbenken.

Men hvis man tar en titt på hva de ulike bydelene stemmer, ser vi raskt at det er store lokale forskjeller. Med åtte store partier (Ap, Høyre, Frp, SV, Krf, Venstre, MDG og Rødt) kan det virke vanskelig å få det fullstendige bildet av hvordan stemmene fordeler seg i sentrum, øst, vest, sør og nord. Det viser seg likevel at partimøstrene kun varierer langs noen helt få, men forståelig, dimensjoner.

Published Sep. 16, 2015 11:14 AM

First published on 21 December 2014.

We all watched Norway-Spain 28-25 today (21-Dec-2014), with Norway winning the European Championship 2014. But how exciting was it? In precisely how dire straits did Norway find herself when Spain was leading 10-5 after 18 minutes, and could we really start relaxing when Norway led 26-22 after 52 minutes?