Stanford Summer Session

13 July 2020

Weishi took part in the 'summer session' at Stanford University in 2019 to further her knowledge of statistics. Read on for more information about Weishi's experience studying at Stanford.


During this summer, I attended the summer session at Stanford University, which is considered as an official school term at Stanford but can be taken by student all over the world. Just like any school term, we have weekly assignments, quizzes, midterm and final exams. At the end of the term, we can receive an official transcript from Stanford University. Among over 100 modules offered, I chose 3 of them: Data Mining and Analysis, Introduction to Stochastic Process, and Functions of a Complex Variable.

As a student doing a statistics degree, I am definitely passionate about statistics, and that’s why I choose the first 2 postgraduate statistics classes. Data mining is mainly about statistical learning methods to fit models to data, and subsequently conduct inferences and predictions. The course involves both theoretical side (the math and statistics intuition) and practical side (R programming). I feel my knowledge about regression and classification methods has been dramatically increased. Moreover, I explored more R packages and libraries than I have learnt in STAT0004 at UCL, and thus am more familiar with R. Secondly, stochastic process and time series is definitely one of the most interesting areas in statistics. The course is mainly focused on discrete and continuous time Markov chain, and some famous examples such as branching process, random walk, Poisson process… These two statistics modules are both with very high quality, and it gives me a taste of what is it like to take postgraduate courses. The conclusion is I am definitely going to do a master degree in statistics.

The math course complex analysis is mainly about basic properties of holomorphic functions on the complex plane. My motivation to take this class is because statisticians often need to face data that transforms naturally to complex numbers, and basic knowledge about complex analysis will be very helpful in my future studies. The course is very well-organised with helpful office hours and tutorials. I did enjoy this math module a lot, especially the topology involved in this class.

Overall, the biggest challenge I faced is the difficulty of classes. As a student who only finished first year undergraduate, taking graduate courses is indeed a big challenge, and I was not able to understand a huge part of the lecture during the first 2 weeks.

However, this indeed forced me to teach myself, and dramatically improved my self-learning skills, which I believe is life-long beneficial. I received A*s for all my three modules in the end, which hugely boosts my confidence.

For students who consider taking a summer course, I would highly recommend this summer session at Stanford. You will be able to dig deeper into the subject you are learning, and have a taste of the education system in the US.


By: Weishi Chen