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Mason’s Goldin appears on PBS’s NOVA Wednesday

February 26, 2018   /   by Lindsay Bernhards

Rebecca Goldin


George Mason University mathematical sciences professor Rebecca Goldin will be featured in a episode of PBS’s NOVA’s documentary series. The episode “Prediction by the Numbers,” which explores the mathematics used to predict events in our everyday lives, airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28.

The episode examines the impact of our ability to predict small events like the outcome of a sports game and major events like storm forecasts. “Prediction by the Numbers” also looks at why some predictions succeed and others do not, and whether we can truly trust forecasts made with algorithms that we do not entirely understand.

Goldin served as a consultant for the documentary and worked closely with directors to develop ideas and ensure their statistical accuracy. She helped with one of the documentary’s major topics: using limited data to quantify uncertainty, as in the case of whether or not sample size in a poll or study represents the entire population.

She says that filming was fun, if a little disconcerting.

“The producers were incredibly patient and professional,” she says. “It was a pleasure to be so closely involved with a project from start to end.”

In addition to teaching in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at George Mason, Goldin is director of STATS, a collaborative project with the American Statistical Association to improve statistical literacy among journalists, academic journal editors, and researchers. She was also recently featured in a segment of radio show Science Friday titled “The Infinitely Surprising Career of a Mathematician.”