Blog

Nov
2020

COVID-19 Vaccines: What Does 90% Effective Mean?

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard from multiple pharmaceutical companies that interim results of their Covid-19 vaccines are showing surprisingly good results. But what does 90% effective actually mean? How do we know what percentage of a population a vaccine is able to protect when we don’t know how many people may have been exposed to the virus?

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Oct
2020

What the A Level Grade Scandal Can Show Us about Algorithmic Bias

There are lots of ways in which artificial intelligence can be unfair in its decision making. In this blog we discuss this so-called "algorithmic bias", motivated by a particularly visible example that recently made the news - when UK A level grades were calculated using an algorithm since students were unable to sit exams due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Jan
2020

Capturing the Decade in a Statistic

With the start of 2020 and the end of a decade, the RSS released their Statistics of the Decade. These are stand-out statistics that the judging panel felt captured the spirit of some of the biggest issues of the last ten years.

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Dec
2019

2019 Statistics of the Year: 58% and 72.6 years

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) has just announced the 2019 winners of its annual Statistics of the Year competition. One of the key goals of the RSS is for statistics to be used effectively in the public interest, providing evidence for the good of society. It is great to see bona fide statistics generating interest and debate.

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Nov
2019

Do School Performance Tables Really Measure School Performance?

Research published recently by the University of Bristol shows that analysis of school performance results change when pupils' background characteristics are taken into account. Commenting on the study, the Northern Powerhouse says that "league tables punish and reward the wrong schools". This study supports our findings from a previous blog, but also illustrates the importance of carefully considering what is included in a statistical model.

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Oct
2019

Approaches to Model Validation

Part of the expertise involved in a useful piece of analysis is the ability to perform model validation. Model validation gives us a way to tell how useful our model is. Can we can trust what it tells us in terms of its predictions and its interpretation?

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