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Chance, Probability and Rankings: the Truth About League Tables
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Sports teams, schools, hospitals, universities, films, online gamers: they all get ranked into league tables. But do these rankings mean anything? Does being top of the league really equate to being the best? This lecture considers how the play of chance can influence rankings, and how we can use the theory of probability (and some computing power) to see whether the cup-winning team was just lucky. In passing, we shall explain the curse of ‘Hello’ magazine, as well as why tall people tend to have shorter children. Using local data on MRSA rates in hospitals, SAT scores in primary schools, teenage pregnancy in local authorities and so on, we will see why league tables are often not to be trusted.
Audience: General public, ages 16+
About the speaker: David Spiegelhalter has made extensive contributions to theoretical and practical aspects of statistical methodology for complex problems, especially in the health sciences. In addition to the Winton Professorship, David is a Senior Scientist in the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, located at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Public Health.
Admission to all our lectures is free but by ticket only: please email Heather Benucci using the ‘mmptalks’ link above; state clearly the date and title of the lecture you would like to attend and how many tickets you require, and we will confirm your ticket allocation by email.
This talk is part of the Millennium Mathematics Project series.
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