Sunday, November 09, 2008


Book Review: Head First Statistics

I find writing reviews of the Head First series of books difficult. Not because they are badly written, or because they do not cover the subject matter well. It is simply that they are so good. So let me set the tone by saying: I challenge anyone to find a better book for learning basic probability and statistics!

Head First Statistics was written by a mathematician for non-mathematicians. The author and editors have obviously put in a great deal of effort to create something out of the ordinary. This book is clearly a labour of love, as it is a low effort and fun way to learn probability and statistics!

I studied Mathematics at university, and statistics was something I had little contact with until a first year introduction to the subject. This clear and simple book will take you painlessly from having absolutely no knowledge of probability and statistics, to a level commensurate with university entrance. It stops short of deriving the central limit theorem from first principles, but it will make you aware of what it is and show you how it can be applied. I gained a clear understanding of concepts I had merely glossed over at university over 20 years ago.

This is an interesting and engaging book, written in the Head First series’ hallmark style (tells you how, but also shows you why). Even if you have absolutely no knowledge of statistics, it will not be a barrier to gaining an in-depth understanding of basic statistics from this book. I really enjoyed reading this book. Highly Recommended.

I did find a few spelling mistakes, and another reviewer on Amazon pointed out that there were a few mistakes in the exercises (I must confess I didn’t work through every single one!).

Disclosure: a copy of this book was supplied by O’Reilly. I did not let that influence this review.


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