Friday, January 20, 2012

Statistics feels like poetry

    Today's title comes from the following poem by statistician and poet Eveline Pye (introduced to this blog on 18 October, 2011).

   Numerical Landscape      by Eveline Pye

   Like a tracker, I smell the earth
   on my fingers, listen for the slightest
   echo as I stare out at a world
   where bell-shaped curves loom

   as mountains and negative exponentials
   foretell dangerous descents, imminent
   disaster. All around, cliff edges crash
   down to restless seas while a solitary  

   outlier shines in the southern sky: a freak
   of random sampling or a guiding light?
   Are others buried deep, confounded
   by experimental design? On my path,

   a decision tree, so many branches spring
   from its trunk, so many choices. Statistics
   feels like poetry –- endless searching,
   never-ending uncertainty.

     Julian Champkin's lively article, "Eveline Pye: Poetry in Numbersin Significance (The Royal Statistical Society, September 2011) is my source for this poem.
      For more poetry related to mathematics, enjoy a visit to where the editors have several articles and are posting a new math-related poem each Friday during January and February  -- including, today, "Zero-Knowledge Proofs," a poem of mine. 

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