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Best books on fundamental Statistics?

  1. May 29, 2014 #1
    Hi awesome Physicsforum members, I’m looking for a good introdoctury book for learning Statistics (self-study) which succeeds in explaining the concepts very clearly .

    What I’m looking for in a statistics book
    My goal with the book is not to achieve some abstract mathematical skills, but rather to be able to use and understand how to use statistics in Science studyies (Biology, chemistry etc.). I’d love a book that explains every subject
    An example would be ”Standard Deviation”: I’d love a book giving you a visul image of what standard diviation would look like in a statistical exapmple (some visual graph) instead of just launching into the definition with heave mat. In addition explaining why and when it’s useful – giving examples with clear conclsions.

    So far I’ve come across 2 books which look like they have potential for being good.
    1. Statistics in plain english
    2. The complete idiots guide to statistics 2nd edition

    I’d love to hear your recommendations or comments and what you find to be the best introduction book on statistics.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 29, 2014 #2
    What is your educational background? There are several really good resources, but the answer will largely depend on what you now know, and what you want to know.
  4. May 29, 2014 #3
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. May 29, 2014 #4
    Does it have to be a book ? Why not learn the material from khanacademy and get schaum's for practice problem ? There's also a great free text at www.openintro.org. If you are interested in learning R the book by John Verzani is excellent for people with no background of statistics or R.
    Last edited: May 30, 2014
  6. May 30, 2014 #5


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    At the very introductory level, I'd recommend

    H. B. Callen, Thermodynamics and an Introduction to Thermostatistics.

    A good standard textbook is

    F. Reif, Fundamentals of statistical and thermal physics.

    At a somewhat higher level but one of the best books on the subject is Vol. 5 of the Theoretical Physics Course by Landau and Lifshitz.

    Also the other two volumes (9 and 10) of that series on advanced topics (using non-relativistic QFT to treat equilibrium quantum statistics and classical as well as quantum statistics for off-equilibrium problems) are gems, but for sure not what you look for.
  7. May 30, 2014 #6


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    Vanhees71, he is asking about statistics (branch of mathematics), not about statistical physics.
  8. May 30, 2014 #7
    I know very little of statistics, i finished highschool about 7 years ago and forgot most of the statistics I learned about then. I I'm reading some chemistry and have a hard time visualizing what terms like standard divination, variance and X^2 test etc looks like an why it's useful. So what I want is a statistics basics book that I can use to clearly understand the concepts in statistics and how to interpreter them -so not just dry mathematics but also with some useful real life examples . It would also be nice with a statistics reference book so I can always look up definitions. Personally I prefers books more than using the internet so is really be happy to find a good intro statistics book as a backup for science studies.
    Last edited: May 30, 2014
  9. Jun 1, 2014 #8
    It looks like an interesting book, I might have to buy that too just as a substitute to the basic statistics book i'm reading,

    I do prefere reading books and I think it's because i feel more distracted when my computer is turned on - I really don't know why that is so.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  10. Jun 1, 2014 #9
    I just discovered that I will be using the software program R together with statistics at university some time in the future, yet the most important thing for me is that the concepts such as confidence interval, standard deviation etc are explained with visual figures which demonstrate clearly what is meant by the definitions.
  11. Jun 1, 2014 #10


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    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  12. Jun 1, 2014 #11
    If you are willing to try a 'sideways approach', the best introductory book to statistics, for me, is "Intro to Error Analyis" by Taylor. It's amazing how he manages to explain in very simple terms concepts that in 'pure' statistics book always look too abstract. It is not a rigorous textbook, but in my opinion is the best starting point to approach the subject. Once you've read Taylor you can proceed with the other 'more conventional' and 'pure' introductory statistics textbooks and you will know why certain concepts need to be introduced.
    As far as conventional introductory statistics book go, I have yet to find one to impress me. Let's say one I might suggest is Devore's "Probability and Statistics for Engineering and the Sciences", and for introductory mathematical statistics I'd go with Hoeg's "Intro to Mathematical Statistics", but they are just two names among many. Taylor's book on the other hand is one of a kind and I believe it will fit your bill.

    Oh, BTW: "Standard Divination" is hilarious! :-)
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
  13. Jun 24, 2014 #12
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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