Thursday, December 25, 2014

Book Review: Think Stats

Think Stats by Allen B. Downey

Think Stats presents statistical analysis techniques with a twist - by showing how to code the solution in python rather than applying mathematically. There may be other books on data analysis using various techniques and python libraries, but this book is unique in the sense that it teaches the reader to apply statistics over real world data and answer common questions pertaining to it and one can even feel the author guiding through various exercises. Another takeaway from the book is that it also shows real world applicability- for instance, having empathy and gratitude for people providing personal information used in the creation of the dataset as well as understanding the context of data before applying any algorithm.
Like reviewing other books, I assumed that the potential reader would be new towards statistics and computing statistical methods in general and this book justifies itself by encouraging the reader identify problems and apply relevant algorithms for the same. While I was able to follow the chapters given in the book, the sole use of python was a bit of a concern - if you are comfortable in python, you will feel right at home otherwise the use of specific technology might cause slight disruptions. I prefer javascript based examples over NumPy and SciPy these days, but as these libraries are more mature, It serves as an excellent choice.

Aiming to replace your regular statistical class, all the key topics are presented in a refreshing manner. After discussing data analysis exploration, representation of data is demonstrated using basic methods before proceeding towards more complex ones. Advanced topics like regression and analytic functions are introduced towards the end. Here's the list of chapters in detail.
One issue that I faced was the fact the book went into theory and actual code analysis was missing at places. For instance, I was unfamiliar with pandas DataFrame and it required me to have a look into the code during the course of the book. This book would definitely in my references list for times to come.

Disclaimer: I have been provided a free copy of this book by OReilly under their Blogger review program.

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