How important is abstract thinking for graduate students in statistics?

A recent lunchtime discussion here at Hopkins brought up the somewhat-controversial topic of abstract thinking in our graduate program. We, like a lot of other biostatistics/statistics programs, require our students to take measure theoretic probability as part of the curriculum. The discussion started as a conversation about whether we should require measure theoretic probability for our students. It evolved into a discussion of the value of abstract thinking (and whether measure theoretic probability was a good tool to measure abstract thinking).

Brian Caffo¬†and I decided an interesting idea would be a point-counterpoint with the prompt, “How important is abstract thinking for the education of statistics graduate students?” Next week Brian and I will provide a point-counterpoint response based on our discussion.

In the meantime we’d love to hear your opinions!

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