Jeromy Anglim's Blog: Psychology and Statistics


Friday, May 29, 2009

Pronunciation Guides for Mathematical Notation, Expressions, and Greek Letters

When doing research in psychology you are sometimes required to study new statistical or mathematical techniques on your own. However, mathematical books rarely tell you how to pronounce the mathematical symbols. And even if you know how to pronounce the symbols in isolation, this does not guaranty that you can pronounce a mathematical expression made up of multiple symbols. Being able to read mathematical notation is a basic first step in aiding memory and conceptual understanding. The following links provide resources on reading mathematical symbols and provide a good reference if you encounter symbols and expressions with which you are not familiar.

Mathematics Pronunciation Guides

  • VÄliaho's guide to Pronunciation of Mathematical Expressions: This is the place to start. It covers many important rules in a 3 page document
  • Handbook for Spoken Mathematics: If VÄliaho's guide did not meet your requirements, check out this extensive resource. It covers many major branches of mathematics such as logic and set theory, geometry, statistics, calculus, and linear algebra. It is the most comprehensive guide that I have found with around 100 pages and around 500 symbols with pronunciation. I'd recommend studying all the symbols if mathematical pronunciation is an issue for you. The symbols are distributed over many pages making it a little difficult to look up a single symbol of interest. Also, when a choice exists, the guide often chooses a more verbose and less ambiguous form of pronunciation. For example, it suggests for "x_i", "x sub i" instead of "x i". This emphasis on unambiguous verbal communication is sometimes more than required when verbalising the symbols in your head or when verbalising symbols in a context where the actual symbolic math is also displayed.
  • RPI's Saying Mathematics Guide
  • Oanca et al's Reading Mathematical Expressions
  • Wikipedia guide to mathematical symbols: meaning of common mathematical symbols with links to their meaning.
  • Greek letters: Lower and upper case Greek letters with pronunciation
  • Tips on displaying formulas can even be useful for some obscure mathematical symbols
The other option is to actually listen to mathematics lecturers and assume that the pronunciation will rub off: see my earlier post on free online mathematics video courses.

Books on mathematical pronunciation

  • Lawrence Change (1983). Handbook for Spoken Mathematics: (Larry's Speakeasy).

Related Posts

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Introduction to Statistical Modelling in Psychology: NSS Presentation

Today I gave an introductory talk for the Neuropsychological Students’ Society at the University of Melbourne on the topic of Statistical Modelling in Psychology.

The slides with notes from the talk are available for download at the following link: Introduction to Statistical Modelling in Psychology.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bootstrapping and the boot package in R

I was recently asked about options for bootstrapping. The following post sets out some applications of bootstrapping and strategies for implementing it in R. I've found bootstrapping useful in several settings:

  • where the statistic I'm interested in is a little unusual: the average R-square across five separate regressions; the difference in the average correlation of a set of variables between two groups
  • non parametric statistics, such as the median
  • when assumptions such as normality of homoscedasticity are not satisfied

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Self-Archiving of journal articles in academia

I'm a big fan of academics who post copies of their journal articles on their own website (e.g., here and here and here). Even if my university has online subscriptions to most journals, it is just more convenient to access all of a person's work in one place. Such articles are also typically then available through Google Scholar. It also opens the work up to others outside of academia who do not have access to university journal subscriptions. Given that academic work is typically directly or indirectly funded by public money, this seems particularly important.

I have found Sherpa Romeo to be a useful site for looking up the standard publisher copyright transfer agreement for different journals. This can be useful in selecting a journal outlet that allows for publishing on your own website. It also sets out the conditions for putting journal articles on your own website.

See here for a discussion of author rights.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Endnote Collaboration

I'm currently exploring options for using Endnote for collaboration:
UQ has a nice discussion of strategies for collaborating with Endnote.
I'm also considering using the Endnote web option.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Statistics for a Psychology Thesis

In 2007 I presented a talk to postgraduate psychology students at The University of Melbourne. As part of the talk I produced a handout which summarised many of the key points that I felt were relevant for such an audience who needed to complete a thesis involving quantitative analysis. Reading over it two years later, I still agree with the ideas, even if my understanding may be a little more nuanced. For example, I'd now see meta-analytic thinking as a simple version of Bayesian statistics. Anyway, I thought I'd post it on the blog.

The audio (17MB) for the talk is available online, as are the Slides, and a PDF version of the content below.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Online Mathematics Video Courses For Self Study in Psychology

This post provides links to free online video courses on mathematics and statistics.

Verifying How Composite Scores Have Been Computed

This post sets out a procedure for checking how a composite was computed from items. This is particularly useful when working with self-report psychological scales and composite ability tests. Computing total scores for a series of subscales and total scores on personality tests and other self-report inventories can be fiddly business, and errors often arise.