Syllabus, Economics 371

Table of Contents

Required Textbooks.

This course covers introductory probability and statistics, including elementary distribution theory, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, and an introduction to regression and multiple regression. The text is Anderson, Sweeny and Williams, Statistics for Business and Economics, Ninth Edition. There is another text that will serve as a reference for the exercises to be done on the computer: The Minitab Handbook: Fifth Edition, by Ryan, Joiner, and Cryer.

Optional Textbooks.

There is A Workbook to Accompany Statistics for Business and Economics. The workbook is optional: no workbook exercises will be assigned. The text itself is not very difficult, so most people should have no need for the workbook.  However, if you are someone who finds statistics a real struggle, and you want an additional resource, the workbook can be ordered by locating it using the ISBN number on the publisher's web site.

As an aid for anyone who wishes to search the internet for a better price, here are the ISBN numbers for the texts.

Anderson, Sweeny, and Williams 0-324-20082-X
Workbook to accompany A, S, & W. 0-324-20086-2
Minitab Handbook, 5th Edition 0-534-49600-8


We will use a software package called Minitab for our calculations.  This software is available in all the University labs, so that it is not necessary for you to purchase it.  However, if you wish to have Minitab for use on your personal computer, two options exist.  You can rent the full version of Minitab for 5 months for $29.99 or purchase it for $99.99- click here for more information. 

Office Hours.

My office hours will be on Wednesday, 1:00 - 3:00, and by appointment.  There are will be a TA assigned to each section of my class.  The two who have been assigned are Xuan Tam and Zhimei Xu.  I will post information about their office hours once I have had an opportunity to meet with them.



  • 3 Quizzes @ 12% each -- 36%
  • Computer Homework -- 20%
  • Comprehensive Final Exam -- 44%

There will be two sorts of homework. There will be paper and pencil problems, which you are expected to do, but which will not be collected and graded. You should do these and check your own answers. Brief answers to many of these questions are in the back of the text.   Answers to the additional xerox questions can be downloaded from this web site.   The solutions manual for Anderson, Sweeny, and Williams has been converted to pdf files and posted on the web page, making it easy for you to get access to detailed answers. These paper and pencil homework questions will prepare you for quizzes and the final exam.

There will be three quizzes, given during recitations, each of which will count as 12% of your grade.

There will also be computer assignments, which will be turned in. These computer problems will count for 20% of the grade.

There will be several of these homework assignments over the course of the semester, and you must keep up. As an incentive for you to keep up generally speaking, no late homework assignments will be accepted. However, to make this less harsh, I will drop the first homework you fail to turn in from the homework grade. If you turn in all your homework, I will drop the one on which you receive the lowest (percentage) grade.

There will also be a comprehensive final, which will count for 44% of the grade.

Homework Policy.

Homework is Pledged. When doing the homework, you are permitted to use the text, your class notes, and any handouts provided in class. If there exist written answers to these questions provided by instructors in previous years, such as might be found in fraternity files, you are not permitted to consult these answers in doing homework turned in for a grade. Neither are you allowed to copy one another's homework answers. This means you are not allowed to work together in groups, when the purpose of the group is to subdivide the assignment, with each person solving some of the questions and being provided with the answers to the remaining questions by others in the group. Each individual is expected to individually work each problem he or she submits for a grade. Each individual is expected to individually do each of the computer assignments (no sharing of disks or output files). However, you may ask one another for advice on how to do these problems - or ask the TA or myself for guidance - provided that you sit down and work the problem through on your own once you've gotten help. If you've received help, you should say in your pledge who helped you and what sort of help they provided.

Academic Honesty

Academic Honesty is a course requirement.  In a recent referendum, the student body voted down a proposal that would have made academic dishonesty ipso facto serious under the honor system.  This creates some ambiguity about what types of academic dishonesty are prohibited under the honor system as "serious" and what types are not.  Just so there is no misunderstanding about my policy, I consider academic honesty a requirement for passing the course.  If I come across compelling evidence of an intentional act of misconduct in this area, you will fail the course, whatever the outcome of possible honor proceedings.  Some specific acts that will result in your failing the course are (a) handing in homework for a grade that is not your own (see the discussion above);  (b) cheating on the quizzes or final exam.

Getting Started With Minitab at UVA

The instructions given here describe Minitab 14 and were tested in the public lab on the first floor of Cocke Hall. They should work, with minor modifications, at other public labs on campus, such as the lab in Thornton Stacks or the lab in Clemons Library.

To begin, you will need a formatted 3 inch floppy disk plus the CD ROM packaged inside the back cover of Anderson, Sweeny, and Williams. Go to Cocke Hall's computer lab, and find an IBM compatible computer (An Apple computer won't work.)

You will probably find it convenient to copy the data sets from the CD ROM to your floppy disk, since otherwise you have to carry both with you to the lab in order to complete homework assignments.  Insert the CD ROM into your computer; click on My Computer, and locate the icon for the CD.  Open the disk, and you will discover two data folders: one consisting of Excel files and one consisting of Minitab files.  Open the folder containing the Minitab files, select all the folders contained there, copy them, and paste them onto your floppy.   The data sets will take up about half the space on the floppy.  If you need to free some space, you can delete the folders of data for chapters we won't be covering.  Then return the CD ROM to the back of the book, where it will be safely stored when you need it, either to retrieve data or to sell the book.

You will also need a few data sets to do the xerox problems. Begin by creating a directory on your floppy disk named "xerox." To do this, click on My Computer, then click on 3 Floppy, then select FILE > NEW > FOLDER. When prompted, tell Windows you want to name the new folder "xerox."

Start your web browser and go to the course home page at

Now you have the data files. It is time to start Minitab. Click on START, then on PROGRAMS, then on STATISTICAL, then on MINITAB, and then (again) on MINITAB.  Minitab should start.

Once Minitab has begun, you will see two windows, a session window on top, and a data window below. You can type commands in the session window, or you can operate the program by clicking on the menu bar at the top of the page. You can enter data in the data window, as you would into a spreadsheet; if you retrieve a data file, the data appear in the data window.

Minitab saves and retrieves two kinds of files: worksheet files and project files. A worksheet is just a data set, and worksheet files have file names of the form filename.mtw, where "mtw" stands for MiniTab Worksheet. The Anderson, Sweeny, and Williams data sets provided with the book are worksheet files. Project files are created when you save the analysis you have done in Minitab. When you quit Minitab you are asked whether you want to save your work, and if you say yes, the data in the data window(s), the complete text in the session and history windows, and copies of each graph you have created will all be saved to a project file. Project files have names of the form filename.mtp, where "mtp" stands for MiniTab Project. If you click on FILE, you will see the menu commands to save and retrieve worksheets and projects. You will also see a command called "Project Description." To keep track of your own work, you might want to write a brief description of what is being saved - something like "the first half of the homework for chapter 9." You can do that by clicking on Project Description and entering the appropriate information. One nice feature of projects is that if you are working on Minitab homework, and want to take a break, you can save your work in a project. When you return you simply open the project and resume where you left off. Don't forget to save your work on your floppy, and not on the hard drive, because if someone performs an auto-logon on your lab computer, your work will be erased from the hard drive!

As a simple example, let's retrieve a data set of hours of computer usage per week for a sample of 50 people, which is an Anderson, Sweeny, and Williams data set used in problem 21 on page 40. 

The easiest way to open this data set is by clicking on FILE > OPEN WORKSHEET > and then browsing to the Chapter 2 subdirectory of your floppy disk (or alternatively, to the Chapter 2 subdirectory on the CD ROM, located in the folder Minitab Files), where you should be able to identify and click on the worksheet named 'Computer.'

When the data appears in the data window, we can do some simple manipulations. For instance, in the session window, type

MTB > describe c1

in order to generate descriptive statistics about the data in column one. Then type

MTB > histogram c1

to make a histogram of the data in column one. To keep the histogram as part of your project, minimize it. If you close it, the graph will not be saved as part of your project. To view it again, click on WINDOW, and then click on the histogram.

Now click on FILE > EXIT, and you will be asked if you want to save the project. Say yes, give the project a name, and store it on your floppy disk.

Preparing Homework to be turned in.

Suppose this was homework that you wanted to turn it in. The easiest way to prepare a neat printed copy is to cut and paste the content of these windows into a word processing document. For example, start Microsoft Word on your computer, and open a new, blank document. Minimize Word, restart Minitab and open your project (using FILE > OPEN PROJECT, and then locating and clicking on the project you just saved). Place the cursor in the session (upper) window, and then click on EDIT > SELECT ALL and then on EDIT > COPY. Maximize Word, and then click on EDIT > PASTE. This transfers the commands and printed output, but not the graphs. To transfer the graph, minimize Word, maximize Minitab, and display the graph by clicking on WINDOW and then the graph itself. Then click on EDIT > COPY GRAPH. Return to Word, decide where you would like to place the graph and then click on EDIT > PASTE.  Now you can edit and print the output from within Microsoft Word, deleting any extraneous output or mistakes you might have made. When done editing, type your name at the top of the finished document, a pledge at the end, and print it.

A Note on Retrieving Data

Most of the data sets we will be using are those from Anderson, Sweeny, and Williams. However, some data for xerox problems come from the web, and the data for Minitab Handbook problems are located on the server.

The data downloaded from the web can be retrieved by clicking on FILE > OPEN WORKSHEET, browsing to the xerox subdirectory of your floppy, and locating the appropriate file.  

The data sets for use with the Minitab Handbook are not on your floppy, they are on the server. If, in Minitab, you click on FILE > OPEN WORKSHEET the default should take you to the directory on the server where Minitab Handbook data files are stored. You should be able to simply select the data file you want. [The data sets are described in some detail in Appendix A of the Minitab Handbook.]  If for some reason the default data directory does not contain the Minitab Handbook files, another way to access them (tested at Cocke Hall) is to enter the following command in the session window:

MTB > retrieve 'g:\apps\win32\mtbwin14 \data\filename'

If none of this works, click on FILE > OPEN WORKSHEET and browse the directory tree looking for the data directory and data file you need. It is possible a data set filename has been given incorrectly in the text, or that the path to the data directory is somewhat different than the path given here. Both have happened in semesters past.

This page was last updated on August 24, 2005.

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