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Why is it that calc 3 is sometimes not required for stats?

  1. Sep 13, 2015 #1
    There is so much variation amongst statistics majors across schools. I think it is the major that varies the most. This is surprising, since statistics is math. A big reason for this is that sometimes it is offered from math department, and others from the business department (stern's stats major is a joke).

    Where i am very confused, however, is that, at some schools such as CSU Eastbay , http://www20.csueastbay.edu/ecat/undergrad-chapters/u-stat.html#major-req-bs , they don't require calc 3! But don't the calc based stats courses use calc 3? At its neighboring school, CSU SF, calc 3 is required and is a prereq for the stats class. How is it that some schools could teach stats without calc 3 while others teach stats requiring calc 3?

    Do most schools require calc 3 for stats major? I feel like I'm working so hard for a degree that would be perceived as a joke because it is at some schools....
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2015 #2
    Not requiring calc 3 for statistics is extremely weird. You definitely need the knowledge of calc 3 eventually.
  4. Sep 16, 2015 #3
    Here in Quebec, none of the five major universities require Calculus 3 for a major in Statistics, or even in Mathematics.
  5. Sep 16, 2015 #4
    May I ask what requirements they do have? (Just pick one university)
  6. Sep 16, 2015 #5
    They require a collegial orientation in either pure or health science, which gives basic classes of physics and/or chemistry, both Calculus 1 and 2 and a class of linear algebra, or a collegial orientation in social science with maths, which again gives only both Calculus and Linear Algebra. When I was in college I took Calculus 3 as an option amongst many others math classes that weren't required, but I remember that many of my peers when we got in university hadn't taken it (and coincidentally, none of them finished the bachelor in statistics, but that's another story!)
  7. Sep 16, 2015 #6


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    Here in Aus, there's no subject called Calculus 3. Rather there is a second year subject on Real Analysis (mix of logic, sequences and series, proofs, epsilon-delta, compactness etc) and a separate subject for Vector Calculus (basics of vector such as Jacobian and Hessian are Calc 2 topics). For a stats and stochastic major, the former is required but the latter is not.

    For stats you really don't need that much vector calc. Mutivariate estimation is done with Fisher Scoring anyway, and most SDEs aren't solvable. The only other thing I can think of is teaching Box-Muller, which again uses Jacobian.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
  8. Sep 16, 2015 #7
    That makes sense. But I was talking about the US system. The system in my country (Belgium) is very similar to yours.
  9. Sep 16, 2015 #8
    So I take it that the system in Quebec gives students quite a lot of freedom? That's a very interesting approach.
  10. Sep 16, 2015 #9
    It does, and that's an issue that has been discussed a lot in the past years, especially in the departments of mathematics, physics and chemistry. The problem is that a lot of people start those university degrees simply because they can (the collegial requirements are fairly low; only a few classes are required, and grades aren't even evaluated, i.e someone could fail a chemistry class twice before passing it and still start a bachelors in chemistry with no problem), and many of them end up not finishing it. It is known that here, more than 50% of undergraduate students end up changing programs by the end of the first year of their bachelors. It is particularly remarkable in mathematics: when I started my bachelors, we were more than 180, statistics, pure and actuarial included. During my bachelors' last semester in statistics, we were 6 (all 6 started a Masters which is an interesting thing to note), and 31 total in mathematics. I remember one of my teachers called it "natural selection", but I don't think that's an ethic way of putting it.

    Because of the low requirements, many students are given the idea that since they can "go there", they can succeed, which is as we know not always true in fields like mathematics. I personally believe that's something that has to be dealt with.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
  11. Sep 16, 2015 #10
    I see. Well, on one hand, failure rates among math majors are always quite high. Here, we don't leave the students that free, and about 50% of the beginning students obtain their degree. Of course, 37 from 180 is a pretty dramatic number.

    I really do like programs where you get a significant amount of freedom. Most people who obtain their degree will have learnt to be responsible for their own knowledge, and they will be able to self-study. This is a very good attitude which you'll need in academia and in the workplace.

    But something does seem wrong, and I think the problem is that high school does not teach children to be independent and responsible. Face it, in last week high school you need to ask permission to go to the toilet, and one month later in university, they expect you to plan out something that will determine a huge part of your life. I really feel that high schools should gradually make children more and more responsible, and that they should ease the transition between elementary school and university. Currently, I can't help but feel that this task is not accomplished enough.
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