Preface to this electronic version

When Statistical Modeling: A Fresh Approach was being drafted, the Amazon Kindle had just been introduced and, at $400, was too pricey for most students. A year after the book appeared in print, the Apple iPad was released. Since then, a generation of students reads in an electronic format as a matter of course. Many have an ebook reader always at hand: a smart phone.

The e-book format has many advantages beyond portability. The books can be much cheaper and less of a drain on natural resources. The text can be searched easily. On many platforms, the display is in color. The reader can adjust the display to suit his or her preferences. All for the good.

The flip side of being able to read on devices of many different configuration is that authors can not reliably anticipate what the reader will be looking at on the “page.” Traditionally, authors and book designers have worked with a fixed page, allowing them to lay out text, graphics, mathematical notation, computer code, etc. as an integrated whole. If you put two images side by side so that the reader could easily refer back and forth, those images stayed side by side. This isn’t true with e-book formats. Tables, which are all about putting things in a spacial arrangement, can become almost microscopic on a smart phone. You can mitigate some of these deficiencies by being an active reader by, for instance, switching between portrait and landscape modes.

The original printed versions of this book had a “computational technique” section at the end of every chapter. That material is now online. The problems of formatting it for an e-book are just too great. Even more important, the web interface allows those materials to become interactive and thereby enhances learning.

The web-based materials are available through the page for this book.