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on 26 September 2008
This is a very readable study book for new university students (or people around that stage) learning statistics and probability for an academic course. It goes to great lengths to be fun and memorable to read for people who probably have a lot of books to get through, and who may find the topic difficult. It uses clip art and photography extensively, as well as breaking up the routine of the text with different styles of content, and lots of exercises. A typical page has a simple graph or algebraic equation with "hand written" annotations emphasising key characteristics, then a photograph of a student (to whom the reader can relate) making some comment, and a few paragraphs of text. It adds up to something covering many pages, but which is easier to digest.

The publishers make a big deal of the "Head First" style, beginning with a whole chapter about it. The repetition works quite well although I sometimes think that I'd rather cram something new in to my fading grey-cells than hear the same story again. My favourite part of the technique was the brief annotations on pictures and in the observations by the photographed people. They often summarised a tricky point very clearly and concisely. Making a formula talk about itself and who it is similar to, is surprisingly good. Sometimes the repetition got the better of me, for example on pages 416, 417 and 418 where a point that was merely about an example was made 4 times.

There are lots of really well designed examples. They are based on plausible scenarios such as a gym that wants to allocate new members to the class with the closest average age, but keeps getting into a muddle because they do their statistics wrongly. In one, a 17 year old man joined a class where the median age was exactly 17, only to find out that it was a mother-and-toddler swimming class and he was not welcome! The exercises build on these examples. Although I found them generally easy, I think that they would be well balanced for a person meeting these topics for the first time.

For myself, I was looking for a reminder about which statistical techniques can be applied to different types of experimental data, but I did not find that; the pinnacle of the book's coverage seemed to be the normal distribution. I was nevertheless pleased to find a page about sources of bias in badly chosen sample sets. Its main topics go from plotting simple data to averages and variance, an introduction to probabilities, the binomial, geometric and poisson distributions, the normal distribution, sampling and making predictions about the larger population, hypothesis tests, then finally the chi-squared test and correlation lines.

There were some over-simplifications, such as that time should always go on the X axis of a line chart, whereas I'd expect to see the controlled variable which isn't necessarily time. Some charts had compressed areas representing large gaps in the data set which is a trick to be used sparingly, and actually worked against the topic at hand. I found a few mistakes, such as a graph axis on p38 labelled "Hours" which should be "Age", and a data set on p61 miscopied from p55. The print quality is not as good as books on artistic topics; most of the photographs are too dark.

In summary, Head First Statistics covers its topic very clearly, and is an excellent study aid for basic probability and statistics. It looks very different from the average book, and almost all of those innovations work really well, especially the one-sentence annotations. The examples and exercises are strong, and the book progresses well through advancing topics.
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on 29 October 2008
This is a great book, it makes it fun to learn. The BIG problem though is that there are so many mistakes.
I'm up to page 256 and on there is the following: 3628800/1440=252. (It should be 2520). Another howler from earlier on is on page 80, where it tells me that 10% of 10000 is 2000. Hmm, not sure but it always used to be 1000 didn't it?
THere are more, I think I've found half a dozen so far and it has really spoilt it for me, I never know if I have misunderstood something or they have made another mistake.
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on 29 November 2008
Head First Statistics covers pretty much what you would expect from a basic statistical course. It starts out with descriptive statistics such as using various graphing approaches, measuring averages and variances from those averages. Then you move into calculating probabilities, permutations and combinations and onto normal and binomial distributions before winding up with sampling chi-squared distributions and correlation. If you've been shopping for a basic stats book then you are probably thinking so far so average. However, where this book is really going to stand or fall is in its presentation and that really depends on your needs. I picked up a couple of the head first books at the same time this one and Head First Ajax, the difference between the two subjects being I work with stats a fair amount but am completely clueless about Ajax! I found the tone of the Statistics book somewhat annoying and to be honest a little bit patronising but the Ajax book was just what I needed given my zero starting base. If you are after a desktop reference this really isn't the book for you (a point that is actually made in the book - if you are in this situation then a much better choice would be the excellent Statistics In A Nutshell also from O'Reilly) but if you are after a tutorial it will cover not only the topics you need but in a format that makes learning a pleasure hit that order button without delay.
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on 14 September 2008
I bought this book because i was struggling with statistics and out of all the statistics books i've read this is the best. It explains everything with examples and it makes sense. This book actually teaches you how you can use statistics in your every day life. I would recommend this book to anyone whose finding it difficult grasping the concepts.
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on 3 June 2009
This book is brilliant, since it goes through statistics with images which is a completely different approach that helps you quickly understand and hopefully remember with the image example.

It help me go through the book in a rush and helped me pass my exam.
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on 22 October 2013
The author explains things really well. I also tried reading Statistics for Dummies, and Even You Can Learn Statistics. If you like learning by rote, try them; if you like feeling that you understand what you are learning, then HFS is the book to read.
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on 9 July 2013
I'm fairly numerate, but lack (or have forgotten) a lot of statistical methods, I was keen to be able to understand and discuss various items of analysis at work. I have only started the book this week, but it's clearly written so far.
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