Chapter 1 Welcome

Welcome to the course notes for EPIB 607: Inferential Statistics at McGill University.

1.1 Objectives

The aim of this course is to provide students with basic principles of statistical inference so that they can:

  1. Visualize/Analyze/Interpret data using statistical methods with a computer.
  2. Understand the statistical results in a scientific paper.
  3. Apply statistical methods in their own research.
  4. Use the methods learned in this course as a foundation for more advanced biostatistics courses.

1.2 Audience

The principal audience is researchers in the natural and social sciences who haven’t had an introductory course in statistics (or did have one a long time ago). This audience accepts that statistics has penetrated the life sciences pervasively and is required knowledge for both doing research and understanding scientific papers.

1.3 About these notes

These notes are a collection of useful links, videos, online resources and papers for an introductory course in statistics. The instructors have found that no single book sufficiently teaches all the topics covered in this course. Part of this is due to advancements in computing which have far outpaced the publication of modern textbooks. Indeed, the computer has replaced many of the calculations that were traditionally taught to be done by hand. We direct the readers to what we think is a good learning resource for a given topic (following the Flipped Classroom strategy). We also provide our own commentary and notes when we think its useful.

1.4 R Code Conventions

We use R code throughout these notes. When R code is displayed1 it will be typeset using a monospace font with syntax highlighting enabled to ensure the differentiation of functions, variables, and so on. For example, the following adds 1 to 1

a = 1L + 1L

Each code segment may contain actual output from R. Such output will appear in grey font prefixed by #>. For example, the output of the above code segment would look like so:

[1] 2

1.5 Rendering Mathematical Formulae

Throughout these notes, there will be mathematical symbols used to express the material. Depending on the version of the book, there are two different rendering engines.

  • For the online version, the text uses MathJax to render mathematical notation for the web. In the event the formulae does not load for a specific chapter, first try to refresh the page. 9 times out of 10 the issue is related to the software library not loading quickly. You can also right-click to see the corresponding LaTeX code used to produce the equation.
  • For the pdf version, the text is built using the recommended AMS LaTeX symbolic packages. As a result, there should be no issue displaying equations. An example of a mathematical rendering capabilities would be given as:

\[ a^2 + b^2 = c^2 \]

1.6 Development

This book is built with bookdown and is open source and freely available. This approach encourages contributions, ensures reproducibility and provides access to the material worldwide. The online version of the book is hosted at and kept up-to-date thanks to Travis. The entire source code is available at

If you notice any errors, we would be grateful if you would let us know by filing an issue here or making a pull request by clicking the edit button in the top-left corner of the text:

The version of the book you are reading now was built on 2018-12-11 and was built on Travis.

1.7 About the authors

Sahir Bhatnagar James Hanley
Drawing Drawing

1.8 License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License