Tips for Grad Students in Statistics at Rice.

Greetings! And welcome to the Rice Statistics Department. We're happy to have you here with us, and because we would like you to be happy to be here, we're going to share some info with you now. These snippets are things that have been contributed by the faculty and grad students already in the program under the heading of "things you wish you'd known" when you were starting out. These fall into a few separate classifications, which I have roughly broken down as follows: I. Things a beginning graduate student should know II. Things a beginning graduate student at Rice should know III. Things a beginning graduate student in Statistics should know IV. Things a beginning graduate student in Statistics at Rice should know. I have not attempted to apply these divisions rigidly, so you will definitely find some things below that you think might better fit in another section. Maybe next year I'll have that sorted out.

Many of these things you will not find in any textbook; they just become part of the common lore that you will be expected to know by the time that you get out of our PhD program. As you will see, much of what follows is simply an awareness of resources that exist!

I. Things a beginning graduate student should know

Learn about your field. This means learning what societies exist within the community, what members of your chosen profession do on a regular basis, who the local employers are, etc. Think about what it is you wish to do with your advanced degree. There are several books about survival in science, and it's good to be aware of them now and possibly to read them sometime in your graduate career. Some examples (available from Dr. Baggerly) are Advice to a Young Scientist, by Peter Medawar (1979), A Ph.D. is Not Enough!, by Peter Feibelman (1994), and the New Researcher's Survival Guide . This last was written by a group of young assistant professors in statistics in the early 1990s and is available as a PostScript file. Much of these deal with the aspects of different research jobs (with a slant towards academia in the last case) and its good to be aware of what the issues are now so that you can look for them in action.

Learn what the key journals in your field are and skim titles and abstracts. This can give you some indication as to what problems in the field are receiving lots of attention.

Learn something of the historical development of your field. Who were the grand instigators, what were the problems they worked on, etc. In the case of a moderately young field (such as statistics) it is often possible to track down many of the original papers. While the methodology developed in them has often been subsequently superceded, seeing what aspects of the problem caught the attentions of these people and why is often interesting.

II. Things a beginning graduate student at Rice should know

Research - Learn to use the library web page and web-based services. You can check the catalog for the status of books and articles that you want (whether the library carries them at all, and if so whether they are in the stacks to be carried off), renew books, and request materials that the library does not carry through interlibrary loan all from the comfort of your own office. Start from Rice's web page,, and link over to the library.

Most of the probability and statisitics section of the library is on the second floor of the library, QA273(prob)-QA276(stat)). Note that, for historical reasons, half of statistics journals and books are on the 4th floor (HA, HB, etc.), including JASA and J. Roy Stat. Soc. (Series A, B etc). JSTOR at Fondren has tons of online stat journas going back to early 20th century., select online indexes and databases, then search for JSTOR. You have to be on rice machine to use this. WARNING! If you are using a windows NT machine with MSIE, disregard the instructions to download and install the Citrix client -- it won't work, and the system will already work without it. (cf. C Bearden, Fondren IS) Current issues of journals are in the reserve room, which is on the ground floor of the library past the circulation desk and towards the front of the library (HA stuff is on the second floor).

Food - Valhalla has very good and inexpensive sandwiches if you forget your lunch. Variants include Turkey, Pastrami, Roast Beef, Po-Boys (Ham and Salami), Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad and Veggie, all of which retail for $2.75 (well, $3 for veggie) as of 8/24/99. They also carry cokes and chips. Valhalla opens for lunch around 11:45 (weekdays only!) and stays open until 1:00. Most of the sandwiches are gone by 12:30, so get there early.

Other food options include Sammy's (inside the student center right across from the bookstore) and Autrey House, just across Main Street from Allen Center. A.H. has hot lunches, soups, salads, etc everyday, is reputed to be better than Sammy's and at least as cheap. Students get a 10% discount (with ID).

Books - it is sometimes (much) cheaper to get your books from an online book seller (eg, than the bookstore, though these do take more time to get here in general.

Working out - the Rice gym has pretty nice facilities, and it is free for your use. These include showers and changing rooms, weight rooms, racquetball and squash courts, basketball courts, and regular workout programs (for a small fee, typically $40 a semester for step aerobics, for example). You may bring guests to work out with you for only $2 (which gets them a day pass). Next to Duncan we have tennis courts.

Family - your spouse may obtain a Rice ID so they may use the gym, library, etc. (Will W)

The GSA Yellow Pages - this extremely handy little booklet produced annually by the Rice Graduate Student Association contains a lot of info on things ranging from Rice to getting a driver's license in Houston to food and mechanic recommendations. You may have a copy of this booklet already (if not, one will be sent to you eventually) but it is also nominally available online at (as of 11am 8/30 this file contained no data).

III. Things a beginning graduate student in Statistics should know

Professional Societies in Statistics. The two big ones are

Some key journals (by no means exhaustive!) for browsing:


Survey, Overview, Job Openings and Happenings in Stat:

Subject Matter Journals

A side note on finding journals and books - in many instances, these may exist in the department! Many old issues of the Annals of Mathematical Statistics (which split into Ann. Stat. and Ann. Prob.) exist in bound form in the Chairman's office, as do less voluminous holdings of Biometrika. For stuff within the past decade, the various faculty members are likely to have copies. We will generally let you borrow the issue in question to let you photocopy an article and bring the issue back. The department also has reference books such as the Encyclopedia of Statistical Sciences (9 volumes) and the Collected Papers of R. A. Fisher in the Chairman's office. Dr. Baggerly also has copies of Fisher's Collected Papers, and a 3-volume set of "Breakthroughs in Statistics" - a series of reprints of articles that prominent statisticians have identified as having strongly shaped the field. These reprints also have recent introductions that cast the papers in their historical context.

For tracking down specific articles, or articles by an author or in a field, one resource that exists is the Current Index to Statistics (CIS). The thing that makes this so useful is that it is online within the department. Type "CIS" at the prompt and then enter the name of the author, etc. For example, typing "efron" at the prompt returns 153 articles either by Brad Efron or with Efron in the title or keyword listing, sorted chronologically and piped into more so that only one page is displayed at a time. Typing "?" at the prompt gives a short help list of commands. One caveat is that this is a computer database which tends to be overly literal, so "bootstrap" and "bootstrapping" produce different lists. You may have to try one or two different variants.

One addtional statistical resource is statlib, a library of statistical functions, data sets, articles and links maintained by Stat Dept at Carnegie Mellon.

IV. Things a beginning graduate student in Statistics at Rice should know.

Fridge - within Duncan Hall there is a room devoted to a student/faculty co-op known as "the Fridge". The fridge carries sodas, candy, and one or two non-junk food items. Members' accounts are kept electronically, so you do not need to carry change to acquire things. To join the co-op you need to get a key by stopping by to see "Ms. Fridge", Rachel Vincent, who lives in DH 2033 on Tuesday between 10 and 11am. The initial startup fee is $10, which should be in the form of a check made payable to Dejan Mircevski. You will need to know your email address and to fill out a form. The rules of operation are posted in the fridge room. There is a refridgerator in the Fridge room where you can store meals that you bring in.

Computing - Mike Pearlman is your friend. The system here is set up very nicely. Try to keep your friends happy. Mike teaches a course in UNIX manipulation, which we will have you take. KEEP YOUR NOTES. They will prove useful. Since we run a shared networking system, there will be other people trying to use the same computers you are using. Use the "nice" and "top" commands frequently, particularly if you are running large simulation jobs or Splus. Few things irk your cohorts more than trying to do something and having the computer either crash or work extremely slowly because you're running a huge job at top priority for a long time when you can't be found. The most likely outcome in such scenarios is that Mike will be summoned to kill your process.

Emacs is a very useful text editing system for UNIX. Learn to use it soon. Learn to use split windows in emacs as well. It is also possible to set up syntax coloring in emacs (highlighting keywords in code, for example) that can save your eyesight and reduce headaches.

The department has Maple (symbolic algebra), matlab, Splus and sas available on its computers. There are some helpfiles floating about within the department for using these (common commands, etc), but I don't have these immediately available or linked in as yet. Ask around, and if you find them please send them to me! For document typesetting, the department has TeX and LaTeX, together with dvips, which will port TeX outputted .dvi files into PostScript files. The department also has ghostview, which will allow you to read PostScript files (ghostview and Adobe Acrobat reader which will allow you to view pdf files (acroread filename.pdf). For TeX .dvi files, xdvi filename works.

We have several printers - one downstairs in the office across from Diane's, and two in the computer room right across from Keith's office. You can invoke these by typing

To save space, you can also print two text pages to a page. After you have a .ps file, you can store it 2 to a page in a new .ps file using psnup -2 In LaTeX, you can set things up directly:

should print the slides two to a page.

There are sets of formatting macros (.sty files) for use with TeX and LaTeX that make things simpler, and some that adhere to university guidelines for text (ie, thesis) preparation are available.

The printer(s) occasionally malfunctions. Check the things you print soon after you have sent them to the printer. This will save much time and headaches. Do not go home or off somewhere for several hours without checking! Be very careful about what you send to the printer. Sending the compiled form of a program to the printer can cause it to spew gibberish for many dozens of pages.

It is possible to use the dept computers remotely. This requires getting an off-campus dialin account via owlnet (a charon account). I do not have details on how to do this immediately available, but these are available from the Consulting Center (103 Mudd, x4983).

A caveat about web pages and the internet - There is no unified webmaster for engineering, Rice in general or statistics. We do not have a real webmaster for the Stat website. E.g., course pages are available on stat website, rice course pages, and professors' websites.

This list was assembled with assistance from Thanks to Will Wojciechowski, Patrick King and John Dobelman.

If you have an addition to make to the list, or comments, send me a note!