NFYK13011U  Applied Statistics: From Data to Results

Volume 2015/2016

MSc Programme in Agriculture

MSc Programme in Nanoscience

MSc Programme in Physics


The course will give the student an introduction to and a basic knowledge on statistics. The focus will be on application and thus proofs are omitted, while examples and use of computers take their place.

The course will cover the following subjects:

  • Introduction to statistics.
  • Distributions - Probability Density Functions.
  • Error propagation.
  • Correlations.
  • Monte Carlo - using simulation.
  • Statistical tests.
  • Parameter estimation - philosophy and methods of fitting data.
  • Chi-Square and Maximum Likelihood fits.
  • Simulation and planning of an experiment.
  • The power and limit of statistics. The frontier.
Learning Outcome

The student should in the course obtain the following skills:

  •   Determining mean, width, uncertainty on mean and correlations.
  •   Understading how to use probability distribution functions.
  •   Be able to calculate, propagate and interprete uncertainties.
  •   Be capable of fitting data sets and obtain parameter values.
  •   Know the use of simulation in planing experiments and data analysis.

The student will obtain knowledge about statistical concepts and procedures, more specifically:

  •   Binomial, Poisson and Gaussian distributions and origins.
  •   Error propagation formula and how to apply it.
  •   ChiSquare as a measure of Goodness-of-fit.
  •   Calculation and interpretation of ChiSquare probability.

This course will provide the students with an understanding of statistical methods and knowledge of data analysis, which enables them to analyse data in ALL fields of science. The students should be capable of handling uncertainties, fitting data, applying hypothesis tests and extracting conclusions from data, and thus produce statistically sound scientific work.

Primary literature: Statistics - A Guide to the Use of Statistical Methods in the Physical Sciences, Roger Barlow.
Additional literatur: Statistical Data Analysis, Glen Cowan. Data Reduction and Error Analysis, Philip R. Bevington. Statistical Methods in Experimental Physics.

Programming is an essential tool and is therefore necessary for the course (we will use Python with interface to CERN’s ROOT software, both free and working on all platforms). Elementary mathematics (integral calculations and combinatorics).
Lectures, exercises by computers, and discussion/projects.
Course webpage:​~petersen/​Teaching/​AppliedStatistics2015.html
The course webpage is administered by: Troels C. Petersen (

It is expected that the student brings a laptop.

There will be an introduction the week before the course begins. You will be informed about time and place later (on the above course webpage).

Restricted elective course for all specilisations of the Physics M.Sc.
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 28 hours
25% from projects, 15% from mandatory problem sets, and 60% from 28 hours take-home exam.
Exam registration requirements

Projects and mandatory problem sets should be approved before the exam.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
More internal examiners

The exam form is identical to the regular exam; projects and problem sets that were approved during the course can be re-used. The remaining projects and problem sets should be approved 2 weeks before the re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment


  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Theory exercises
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 122
  • Total
  • 206