How To Learn Statistics

This section of the website covers statistics and has most of the same topics that would be covered in a statistics 101 course at a University.  Here is the table of contents for the different statistics topics covered on this site.

Two good examples of free University content for this material are

Another great resource for statistics help is Cross Validated.  There you can ask questions about your specific problems and get help.


Purpose Of This Page

The reason I wrote this material came from my own pursuit of the same information.  I am about 10 years removed from studying aerospace engineering in college and have been working as a professional engineer since then.  However, even though I studied statistics at the university, a lot of the concepts proved to be slippery and a “use them or forget them”.  This is especially true of things I knew mostly by memorizing equations.

Remembering equations worked fine for carrying me through a semester of school, but to remember the topic for a whole career or a lifetime, it turns out that I needed something different.  I needed to find ways relate each topic other things that I knew, so it wasn’t on the periphery of my knowledge anymore, but deeply ingrained.


Benefits & Perils Of Self-Teaching

These topics are my attempt to cover statistics in a way that is easy to learn and remember long term.  A lot of this material I re-learned through self-study.  Being largely self-taught in these topics often makes it easier for me to find relatable examples for other learners than it would be for the complete expert.

The downside of self-study is that it can leave gaps.  For instance, when learning how to do multiple linear regression (i.e. draw a straight line/plane/hyperplane through data that has at least 2 independent variables) I ran across a method of doing it that was an intuitive but laborious expansion of simple linear regression.  A reader who is more of an expert than I pointed out that I had missed a simple to do (but difficult to understand) method of doing multiple regression  (i.e. Moore-Penrose pseudo inverse).

If you spot similar oversights or just plain errors, you can find my email address here, please let me know, and I can include that information for future learners


How To Learn Statistics

I think that statistics is an area where you want to go for breadth-first.  I.e. You would rather know something about a lot of topics than knowing a lot about a few topics.   My friend Kalid over at Better Explained refers to it as the Adept Method.   And a good analogy is to go for seeing a big picture first, even if it is not completely clear

You see the whole thing, but it is fuzzy

More study gradually brings it into focus

more study brings it into focus

Rather than diving deeply into specific topics before moving on.

From a practical sense, what that can mean is skimming topics on an initial read, than then revisiting the topics a couple of times as you learn other material and see the connections between them.  To facilitate this, I have set up each page with a couple different sections.  The first section of each page is designed for an initial read through to get the big picture, and the second or third sections are designed to draw connections to the other topics and to dive into a deeper understanding.  I recommend reading the first section of any given topic and then coming back a week so so later after you’ve had time to internalize some of the material, do some example problems, and look at some other topics, before diving into the second or third layer of the material


Sources Of Material

The internet has a lot of great content on it, and it doesn’t make sense to duplicate a bunch of material that already exists.  So when I know of pages that have great explanations or find useful tools, I will link to them.  And if you have suggestions please let me know.    I have also covered some of the other topics in more depth as Kindle Books (typically priced under 3 dollars), so I will link to that material where it makes sense.  I know that some people can’t access the Kindle content or are not in a position to purchase it, so I would be happy to send a free PDF copy if you contact me.


Enough Preamble

That’s all I have by way of introduction.  To get started go to

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