1. Lessons

In this section of the website, you'll find all of the lessons written for this course. They'll (soon) be organized more or less by date, as soon as I re-date them. Right now, you can just click through the below. There's also a tags page which you can use to …

2. Problem Sets

In this section of the website, you'll find all of the problem sets assigned thus far, and, after the due date, answers for them.

3. Post-Week 1 Notes

Well, we've survived our first week of Sociological Gobbledygook (and one room change---which we're keeping, BTW). We've learned the basic mechanics of programming, and, more importantly, we've worked on building a mental model for how talking to a computer works by completing a number of exercises.

For the in-class time …

4. Problem Set 1

This problem set is worth 17.5% of the grade in this course. It is due on Friday, February 1, at 5pm, via a dropbox in ICON that I shall set up for the purpose.

There are three problems on this set, one relatively small/easy one worth 20 points …

5. Simulation for fun and profit

One really useful thing that you can do with programming skills is simulate things that you don't fully understand. This is something that hard science people do all the time: it turns out that there are some kinds of problems that aren't solvable in a deductive, analytic kind of way …

6. Problem Set 2

Due Friday, February 22, at 5pm Central time.

As before, please turn in your answers in a single notebook. For the questions that require you to write down prose, hopefully by now you've realized that you can change the type of a notebook cell to "markdown" to write regular text …

7. Week 4 recap: Total Probability Rule

The probability lecture this week kind of hit a wall at one point in our Bayes Rule example. Here's a clearer explanation.

Remember, we had an example problem involving figuring out the posterior probability of someone being drunk, given that they blew a positive result on a breathalyzer.

The place …

8. Problem Set 3

Due Friday, March 29, at 5pm Central time.

Problem 1 (55 Points): Legislative Discrimination

Go onto google scholar and find Daniel M. Butler & David E. Broockman, "Do Politicians Racially Discriminate Against Constituents? A Field Experiment …

9. Using libraries in Python

Programming would be incredibly time consuming if you couldn't reuse code. You've seen the basic form of code reuse already---the function, which allows you to lock up a transformation from some data to some other data, give it a name, and then apply it repeatedly, and to arbitrary data.

Well …

10. Introduction to Python and setup.

In this class, we will be using the Python programming language. In this first week, we will have a basic introduction to Python and to the fundamentals of computer programming.

Before we get started programming, we have to set up a system to write our code and get the computer …

11. Why Statistics for Lawyers?

The brunt of this course will be devoted to statistics and exploratory data analysis.

Exploratory data analysis is just looking at data to see what you see. We will spend some time, for example, looking at how to see the shape of data and what that can tell you about …

12. Introduction to Programming and Python

In this first week of the course, we're going to cover some core concepts of computer programming. With this, we will build a foundation to do more interesting things in the coming weeks.

What is Computer Programming?¶

Computers basically just do one thing: they complete very simple operations at astonishing speed.

For example, suppose you wanted to calculate the thousandth number of the Fibonacci Sequence read more

Introduction to Exploring Data in Python¶

In this lesson, we're going to learn about how to get a feel for data in Python, using basic tools to look at our data.

First, however, let's make sure we have the right version of a library we need called Seaborn. Run the code in the next block and make sure that you get the right version.

14. Files and How Computers Represent Data

In this lesson, we're going to learn how to open files and work with data from the disk. We'll start with the mechanical process of opening text files, and then move on to learn a little bit more about different kinds of data you'll see.

Here's the basic method of opening and reading text files. Suppose I have a file called hello.txt in my working directory. (Your working directory is the directory you run Python from on your hard drive. For those of you using Azure Notebooks, this should be your library, but talk to me if you see a file there and can't read it from Python.)

15. Introduction to Distributions

What's a Distribution, Anyway?¶

Statistics people often talk about distributions, like a normal distribution. Here's what they mean: suppose you could see all of the instances of the thing you're trying to study. What kind of pattern would their values have? That's the distribution.

For example, suppose you expect that most of the values of the thing you care about will be clustered around some average value. IQ is a good example: most IQs in the population are around 100, and then as values get further away from 100 in either direction, the fraction of the total number of instances that takes that range of values gets smaller. There are lots of folks with an IQ between 85 and 115, fewer between 70 and 85 on one side, and 115 and 130, many fewer between 55 and 70 or 130 and 145, and a (proportionally) truly tiny number between 40-55 or 145-160.

16. The Normal Distribution and the Central Limit Theorem

The main reason scientists like the normal distribution so much is because of a two little ideas called the law of large numbers (LLN) and the central limit theorem (CLT).

I'm not going to walk you through proofs of these; instead, we'll just look at some graphs and talk about some intuition.

17. When Regressions Attack

This lesson is all about what can go wrong in linear regression. Here's an outline of the ways things can go wrong.

• data isn't linear
• extreme outliers
• multicolinnearity
• conditioning on a collider
• counfounder bias
• non-normal residuals

There's also a problem known as "autocorrelation" which mainly appears in time series data (i.e., when one tries to run a regression on something that changes over time, like stock market prices). Time series analysis is a fairly advanced topic that is beyond the scope of this course, but you should have alarm bells ringing if anyone tries to do ordinary linear regression on data that spans time like that.

18. Getting Data from the Internet With Python

When you use a web browser like Chrome to go to a URL ("uniform resource locator," or web address) like https://sociologicalgobbledygook.com, what you're actually doing is sending a request using the HTTPS protocol (which …

19. The Basics of Probability

What is Probability?

Probability is the mathematical representation of the likelihood of an event under a given set of circumstances (conditions) in a given period of time. We will say, for example, that the probability of winning the jackpot in the lottery from buying one ticket this week is some …

20. Hypothesis Testing: Conceptual Introduction (draft)

Now that we understand distributions and the central limit theorem, we’re in a good position to make sense of the notion of a hypothesis test. It’s actually very simple.

Suppose you do an experiment. Let’s say you want to find out whether a company is engaging in …

21. Abel and Baker Redux: Probability and Description

Right at the beginning of the F&L readings for this week, you saw a well-known probability puzzler/"paradox." I'm going to risk angering the copyright gods and quote it in full here:

Assume that boys and girls are born with equal frequency. Mr. Able says, “I have two children …

22. P-Values and Bayes Rule

Recall from the previous lesson what a p-value is: it’s the probability of observing a value of your statistic as extreme (as far away from the null hypothesis statistic) as you in fact observed, if the null hypothesis were true.

In other words, if you’re doing a (two-sided …

23. Some (Edited) Cases on Discrimination Testers

United States v. Balistrieri, 981 F.2d 916

1992-11-24

MANION, Circuit Judge.

The United States sued Joseph Balistrieri, owner of the Shorecrest Apartments …

24. Functions and Scope

Recall how in the first Python lesson we looked at the while loop and saw how it allows us to repeat instructions to the computer as many times as you want.

The next step up from a loop is a function, which allows us to wrap up a series of commands into a single command on its own. Let's take a look at an example.

25. Common Data Transformations

It's often useful in performing data analysis to transform some of your variables to fit a common scale; this is especially useful in exploratory data analysis, because these transformations often make it much easier to eyeball the relationship between variables. (Also, some statistical techniques require these transformations.)

In this short lesson, we'll introduce two common methods of transforming data---the log transform read more

26. Introduction to Linear Regression

The standard technique for measuring the relationship between one or more continuous independent variables and a continuous dependent variable is linear regression.

The basic idea of linear regression can be expressed simply. A linear regression is a line (or some more dimensional geometric thingy) that maps the independent variables to the best predicted value for the dependent variable.

27. More Loops and Control Flow

In this lesson, we'll think about more ways to direct Python to do things repeatedly, or conditionally.

Let's start with more loops. I showed you the while loop before, remember?

28. Simple Data Types (draft)

In Python, the data you work with (like the things assigned to variables) have types, which specify the kinds of data they are and the things you can do with them.

A good way to understand this is to think about the difference between letters and numbers. While we can write both down, there are different things we can do to them. It wouldn't make sense (except in an algebra context) to multiply and divide letters; it would't make sense to talk about a capital and a lowercase number 3.

29. Complex Data Types

Some kinds of data can store other kinds of data.

Lists¶

We've actually seen the most common complex data type a few times before, I just haven't pointed it out to you. We make a list by enclosing the elements of a list in square brackets.

30. Key Python Libraries for Working with Data

In this lesson I'm just going to describe the main libraries that we'll see when we work with data in Python.

Numpy¶

Numpy is the first library we work with. By convention, it's imported with import numpy as np. Numpy really provides two things to our workflow:

1. Math that goes faster than unadorned Python could do it---which is important when you're doing statistics, because under the hood computational stats can take a lot of calculations.

31. Practical Basic Hypothesis Tests

In this lesson, we're going to very quickly rip through the basic hypothesis tests, their uses, and how to achieve them in Python. I won't spend a lot of time on this, because the mathematical details are covered in the assigned reading, and, at any rate, I think for practical purposes regression analysis is more important for lawyers. Also, this is basically AP/undergrad stats material, so you've probably seen it somewhere already.

32. Dealing with Errors

An unavoidable fact of life for people who write code is error messages. You're happily programming along, and then, all of a sudden, you get a massive screen of terrifying text telling you that you screwed up!!

33. Object-Oriented Programming

Object-oriented programming (OOP) isn't all that special, it's just a particular style of programming that Python is particularly well designed for. This is a short lesson, we won't cover the theory of OOP, or features you might hear about elsewhere like "inheritance"---see your reading in the P4E book for more.

34. Regular Expressions

Regular expressions (or "regex"/"regexes") are one of the most powerful programming tools for lawyers. Essentially, regular expressions are a powerful specialized programming language built into other languages like Python, which allow you to express complicated text searching operations.

The utility of this for lawyers should be obvious: lawyers have to deal with lots and lots and lots of documents, and sometimes need to search through those documents for specific information. If those documents are in electronic form, regular expressions can provide you with a much more powerful way of searching than what is built into ordinary applications.

35. In-class example: talking to an API

This is a lightly edited version of the notebook that we worked through in class on 1/22/19.

In class, we went through how to make an API call end-to-end, to get a look at common tasks like figuring out documentation, using libraries, making HTTP requests, etc. Over the weekend, practice with this API and others (you might also try the one at opensecrets.org read more

36. In-Class Exercise: Data Scavenger Hunt

Pandas Filtering

Before we do our scavenger hunt, here's a piece of useful information you should know: you can filter rows of a Pandas dataframe using something that returns a boolean.

For example, suppose you have a DataFrame called copdf with police officer names in a column called "name" and …

37. Week 5 Recap

In week 5, we began by continuing our probability lecture from last week, and then, as an exercise, tried to prove the correct answer to the Monty Hall problem using Bayes Rule.

Monty Redux

Here's that solution again. Remember our formula for Bayes Rule:

P(B|A) = \frac{P(A …
38. Causation and Counterfactuals

In law as in science, one thing we typically want to resolve are questions of causation. For example, in biology we might ask things like "does this drug reduce deaths from heart disease," in economics we might ask "does raising the minimum wage increase unemploment." In law, such questions will …

41. Post-Week 9 Notes

Two notes following week 9 (our intro to regressions).

First, a couple students asked whether you need to center and scale (standardize) data to make it work with linear regression. I think I had a brain freeze and gave an inconsistent answer, so let me clarify here: no, you don't …

Here is a combination of some of the code Sam kindly showed us in class, plus the visualizations I showed you, for our simpson's paradox example on 3/25/19.

Here are a few additional FYIs:

1. The source of the underlying dataset is an article entitled "Simpson’s Paradox: A Data Set and Discrimination Case Study read more

43. Last Problem Set! (Pset 4)

Due Thursday, May 9, at 5pm Central time. This is an absolutely firm deadline, as it is the last day of the exam period.

44. Makeup Assignment: Research Design

In lieu of the makeup session for the class we missed---which, it turns out, conflicts with every schedule under the sun---please complete the following short assignment. This assignment will be graded on a pass-fail basis, based on effort (moderate effort, not extreme effort---I don't want this to take more than …