Frequently Asked Questions

Is COS 126 a prerequisite? Do I need to know computer programming to take this course?

No, COS 126 is not a prerequisite and you do not need to have taken a course on computer programming. We will be using the R statistical software language extensively throughout the course, so some background in programming is helpful but it is not necessary. If you have no background in computing at all, then we suggest you take a look at this primer on R:

The Undergraduate Guide to R

If the content of this primer seems reasonable to you, then you should find the computing in the course to be reasonable.

How much computer work is involved in this course?

To do cool stuff with data, you need to use a computer! This course is about how to do interesting, informative, and useful things with data, so most of the learning and homework will occur on the computer. We will be extensively using the statistical software language R. Students will not be learning R “on the side”; rather, it will be one of the main topics in the course, including during the lectures and the precepts.

What’s the difference between SML 201 and the seven introductory statistics courses (ECO 202, EEB/MOL 355, ORF 245, POL 345, PSY 251, SOC 301, WWS 200) offered at Princeton?

There is very little overlap between SML 201 and the introductory courses listed above. SML 201 is focused on data – data analysis and how data can be used to make discoveries and further technologies. Taking both SML 201 and an introductory statistics course will be worthwhile if the student has the opportunity and interest.

The precept times do not work for me. Can you change them so that they fit my schedule?

We usually take a poll during the first lecture meeting to determine how well the precept times work for everyone. If they are extremely problematic, then the AI’s work with the students to determine whether there are meeting times that work better for everyone. However, there is no guarantee that the precept times can be changed to fit your schedule.