New Coursera offering will provide sequel to popular Bayesian Statistics course

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Karyn Skemp

The UC Santa Cruz MOOC review committee approved funds to develop an Intermediate Bayesian Statistics MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). The course will be a sequel to the very popular Bayesian Statistics: From Concept to Data Analysis.

Developers of the new four-week Coursera offering say that it is a "natural course" for the University of California, Santa Cruz. The the UC Santa Cruz statistics group, which resides within the Baskin School of Engineering's Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department (AMS), specializes in Bayesian statistics, and is known internationally as a leading Bayesian statistics department.

The existing MOOC -- Bayesian Statistics: From Concept to Data Analysis -- was originally taught by Herbie Lee, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Statistics (now Vice Provost for Academic Affairs) and has been well received, having nearly 3,600 enrollments and consistently excellent student reviews.

The new MOOC -- Intermediate Bayesian Statistics -- will introduce modern computing methods for analyzing data outside the restricted realm of conjugate modeling. New methods, known as Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods, have made the Bayesian approach flexible and feasible for a very wide range of problems. And updated software packages now allow non-experts to take advantage of these MCMC methods in practice.

Combined, the two Coursera courses would cover the content of an existing AMS course, Bayesian Statistics, as it has been taught by Professor Lee. AMS 206 has a wide audience, and is taken by AMS PhD and MS students, PhD students in other technical fields like computer science, engineering, and astrophysics, graduate students in much less mathematical fields such as Environmental Studies and Earth Science, undergraduate statistics minors, and undergraduate bioinformatics majors.

By making this a hands-on computing course, students will learn practical skills and be able to apply them to their own problems. Developers of the new Coursera course note that "computational Bayesian skills are also good for employability, as there has been a large growth in data science jobs in Silicon Valley and around the world."

More information about the Baskin School of Engineering

More information about the Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department