Computing and Statistical Data Analysis

2003/2004 University of London Postgraduate Lectures
for Particle Physicists


  University of London crest

Glen Cowan, Royal Holloway, University of London, phone: (01784) 44 3452, e-mail:

*Monday 3 November postgrad tutorial at Royal Holloway!

Here is a page of directions on how to get to the Royal Holloway Physics Department. We'll try to get started at 11:00 so people can use a travelcard from Waterloo. If you show up earlier you get coffee and donuts. Meet in or around my office, Wilson 262.

We will use part of the time to finish up with some lecture material but mainly we will work on a mini-project that exercises a number of the concepts that we've gone over so far this term. This involves Monte Carlo models for the processes e+e- -> HZ and e+e- -> ZZ. The goal will be to try to develop a test statistic to best discriminate between the two. If you want to take an advance look at some of the code, it is located here.

Archives: The course page for the 2002 lectures. Materials from the 2002 data analysis tutorial can be found here.

Aims: The purpose of the course is to present the basic mathematical tools needed for the statistical analysis of experimental data. The methods will be practiced by writing and running short computer programs. The course will also include several lectures on the basics of computing in High Energy Physics.

Syllabus: A general outline of the course topics.

Schedule: Mondays 12 to 1 and 2 to 3, starting 29 September for 8 weeks. Here is a provisional timetable for all of the postgraduate lectures.

Books: The lectures will mainly follow

G. Cowan, Statistical Data Analysis, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998.

This book has its own web site, which contains various data analysis resources. Also useful are:

R.J.Barlow, A Guide to the Use of Statistical Methods in the Physical Sciences, John Wiley, 1989;
W.T.Eadie et al., Statistical Methods in Experimental Physics, North-Holland, 1971;
S.Brandt, Statistical and Computational Methods in Data Analysis, Springer, New York, 1998;
L.Lyons, Statistics for Nuclear and Particle Physics, CUP, 1986.

You can also download the sections on probability, statistics, and Monte Carlo (ps files) from the Review of Particle Physics by the Particle Data Group.

And here is a paper on unfolding I wrote for the 2002 Durham Statistics Conference (ps, pdf).

Lecture Notes (print out and bring to lecture):

  • Statistics and Data Analysis:
  • Computing:
  • Problem sheets:

  • Problem sheet 1 (due 13 October 2003): ps, pdf
  • Problem sheet 2 (due 20 October 2003): ps, pdf
  • Problem sheet 3 (due 3 November 2003): ps, pdf
  • Problem sheet 4 (due 17 November 2003): ps, pdf Some code for exercise 4.4 can be found here. A routine for generating Poisson random variables (and a test program) can be found here.
  • Problem sheet 5 (due 1 December 2003): ps, pdf Some code for exercise 5.3 can be found here.
  • Problem sheet 6 (optional -- for your interest): ps, pdf
  • Some material for the tutorials and supplementary notes:

    Computing links:

  • Some handy Web Info for the MSc skills course.
  • Homepage of the plotting program gnuplot, a brief gnuplot tutorial by Henri Gavin, another one from Kawano (LANL) (see also not so FAQ), and a more complete set of gnuplot documentation from sourceforge.
  • Some information on PAW.
  • Some information on Unix:
  • Mainly for Royal Holloway users: a Guide to Computer Resources in the RH Particle Physics Group.
  • DELPHI's information page on AFS.
  • The User's Guide to the e-mail program pine (University of Washington).
  • A large collection of writeups at CERN, including information on:
  • A site with documentation on the XEmacs editor, including the XEmacs New User's Guide.
  • Courses from the University of Strathclyde on Fortran, C, and X-windows.
  • A C++ course from Imperial College.
  • Information on the C++ debugger xxgdb can be found in many places, such as here, which is from an OO design course by Dennis Kafura at Virginia Tech.
  • TeX Resources on the Web (including LaTeX).
  • A list of sites on text processing and LaTeX from CERN, and the Cambridge LaTeX site.
  • A course on computational physics from Imperial College.
  • Some sites with program libraries:
  • Journals, etc. (some require login from CERN or RHUL computer for access)
  • Some information on Java:

  • Glen Cowan