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Honoursmodule: The dangerous world of Mathematics & Statistics

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dr. G.J.M. Marée

Entry requirements 

  • Second and Third year bachelor students participating in an honours programme.
  • Mathematics (High School and first year (introductory) course at the university in Mathematics and/or Statistics).

Recommended prior knowledge

A healthy mathematical and statistical curiosity.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the course the student can:

  • Use logical reasoning and demonstrate possible pitfalls in arguments.
  • Can judge when people “lie with statistics” and use descriptive statistics in a correct way.
  • Do calculations by using probability calculus techniques and will see that some things will be different than they expect.
  • Deal with noise within mathematical models. Moreover, they will see the importance of huge and small numbers.
  • Do calculations in the field of Financial Mathematics and learn about some important concepts and misleading selling techniques.
  • Analyze the (mis)use of Statistics and Mathematics in Science and Industry.
  • Discover mathematical and statistical mistakes in reasoning.
  • Construct objects in the fourth dimension.
  • Describe (social and economic) problems by using              (systems of) difference and differential equations.


In this course it will be demonstrated that it is very important to use mathematical and statistical techniques in a proper way. It will be seen that in industry and science these disciplines are not always used in a proper way. Moreover, the student will learn more about the mathematics of finance, other dimensions, probability calculus, paradoxes, mathematical models, and other dimensions.

Descriptive Statistics, Probability Calculus, Conditional probabilities, Bayes’ rule, Statistical and Mathematical paradoxes, Mathematical Reasoning,  Noise, Huge and Small numbers in Science, Mathematics of Finance, geometric and arithmetic sequences, the fourth dimension, the (mis)use of Statistics and Mathematics in Science and Industry, Mathematical Riddles, Fractals, Chaos, Complex number theory, (systems of) difference and differential equations.

Teaching method

  • Lecture
  • (Computer)practicum > most probably
  • Selfstudy
  • (12 lectures; two hours per lecture; combined with assignments)


4 assignments (each with weight 10%); one final test (3 hours; weight 60%, open questions); in case of a retake the result of the assignments will remain valid, so in that case the grade for the course is determined by the grade of the retake (60%) and the grade of the assignments (40%).

Study material:

  • Hand-outs will be made available during the course
  • Study Material will be mentioned on Canvas
  • Background literature:
  • Darrell Huff, (1991) How to Lie with Statistics Penguin; New Ed edition, ISBN 0-14-013629-0 
  • Daniel Kahneman, (2012), Thinking, Fast and Slow, ISBN 9780141033570
  • Cars Hommes, (2012), Behavioral Rationality and Heterogeneous Expectations in Complex Economic Systems, ISBN   9781107019294

Min/max participants



The schedule will be available on Datanose .


Registration is possible for 2nd year (or higher) students participating in an Honours programme. The registration for the Honours courses will start on June 4, 10 am -  June 8, 11 pm, You can register through the online registration form that will appear on Honoursmodules IIS.

Placement will be at random and within two weeks students will hear whether they are placed for a course. 

There is no guarantee for placement if you register after June 8, so make sure you apply on time! 

For questions: please contact Honours-iis@uva.nl 

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in the educational offer and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDG's website.

Facts & Figures
Mode Honours programme
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in October