Stats Is Like a Box of…

Written by Alex Sabrowsky:

As a kid, it was the one present I always wanted. Whether it was my birthday or Christmas, there was only one thing I truly ever wished for. The joy of hearing the distinct sound as I shake the box to confirm that once again, Santa came through for me. But the excitement doesn’t stop once I know that I got what I wanted, because I still have to unwrap it and find out what adventure awaits me this time. Is it a futuristic high tech tank? A rebel headquarters? A lightning quick Starfighter? Who knows? But there’s only one way to find out. I rip off the wrapping paper, tear open the box, and dump the contents onto the table, and the euphoric grind begins. One after another, with the guidance of the all-knowing instructions, the pieces are connected. The 2X4 gets connected to the 2X6. Now I need the cylindrical piece. Whoops! Just lost a 2X1. I hope no one steps on that. The satisfaction grows as I slowly see my work come to life, and after hours of methodically building, my present turns out to be the lightning quick Starfighter, which is of course, made completely out of Legos. Obviously the box told me what it’s going to be beforehand, but the process of making it myself and holding it in my hands is the real present.

That feeling that I was fortunate enough to experience a handful of times as a kid, is similar in nature to the feeling I get when I’m doing actuarial science and statistics. After taking AP statistics in high school, I absolutely fell in love with math. I was always talented with math and understood the concepts, yet I always found social sciences such as history and psychology more interesting. However, once I learned that statistical models, tests, and other research could just as easily define and explain the social world around me, I was captivated. Observing data, and analyzing the trends it gives us in a constructive manner enables us to view the world in a way that I didn’t know existed. I find it fascinating when a relationship between objects, events, or ideas are discovered, when they seem uncorrelated whatsoever to the naked eye. In this sense, statistics is just like a box Legos.

When you first open a new set, hundreds of pieces lay in front of you, all with different shapes, sizes and colors. Individually they are just pieces of plastic that take the shape of a deformed blob if they are simply randomly pieced together. However, with the guidance and formulaic arrangement given by the set’s instructions, the pieces come together to form a magnificent creation. The same is for statistics. The data are the pieces, and the formulas with the modeling techniques are the instructions. Together they turn numbers into real life ideas, solutions, and explanations that benefit society. I take great pride in studying and pursuing an academic venture such as actuarial science that gives me self-worth and is intellectually challenging. I am very blessed by the fact that statistics relates to me on a very personal level, and satisfies my inner child. At the same time I am also thankful for and humbled by all the work and innovation that has gone into the creation and foundation of the statistical and actuarial sciences, the advanced mathematical work of brilliant minds that have created the instructions so that now I might build.