Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Bayes Offers a 'New' Way to Make Sense of Numbers," by David Malakoff.Science, 19 November 1999, pages 1460-1464.

After years of skepticism and intractability, Bayesian statistics is cominginto its own. This approach allows researchers to use everything from hunchesto hard data to compute the probability that a hypothesis is correct. Manystatisticians have feared that because Bayesian analysis can take into accountprior opinion, it could spawn less objective evaluations of experimentalresults. But, as technology and new algorithms have made Bayesian methodsfaster to calculate, researchers are increasingly using the approach; in fact,drug companies are beginning to use Bayesian techniques in an effort to speedup clinical trials required by the Food and Drug Administration. Whileskeptism persists, many statisticians are calling for a more widespread use ofand eduation in Bayesian statistics.

--- Benjamin Stein