I was browsing through http://www.math.umass.edu/~lavine/Book/book.html and found the book to be really exhaustive in terms of what I need it for but I was concerned about it's prerequisites.

I have a background in Calculus (I/II/III) which were fairly applied (as opposed to proof based) and Linear Algebra. Not many other Math courses. I had taken a Probability and Stats course but dropped it midway because I didn't like the exposition. I remember things like average, mode, median etc. but not something to be relied upon.

Can I read that book?

As far as the book is concerned, the preface states "This book is intended as an upper level undergraduate or introductory graduate textbook in statistical thinking with a likelihood emphasis for students with a good knowledge of calculus and the ability to think abstractly. "

I'm not sure what upper level undergraduate means.

The reason I'm confused is because most books start off with probability with simple heads and tails type questions. The distributions come in much later but in his book, they come up in the first chapter itself. (Succinct is better, so if this is OK, I'd love to continue reading the book)

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    $\begingroup$ I cannot speak to the prerequisites, but I do know Michael Lavine. He is a wonderful lecturer, able to convey advanced ideas clearly to undergraduate audiences. If you're comfortable with the mathematical material in the beginning (e.g., the statement and proof of the first theorem at p. 12), then you should feel encouraged. Otherwise, if you find this notation alien and unfamiliar, you will need more of a mathematical background to read it (at the level of an "introduction to modern math" course typically offered to sophomores considering a math major). $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ That said, the notation in the book is just some basic calculus, set notation, and R code, all of which are generally very helpful (especially set notation), when it comes to think about stats. The probablility notation itself sometimes trips me up, but there's a decent cheat sheet at stattreck.com $\endgroup$
    – naught101
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 0:21

1 Answer 1


I have scanned the book and it looks to me like an introductory graduate level text well-writtn and with lots of references. If you have the prerequisites and are comfortable with the introductory material on probability in chapter 1, as whuber suggests, go ahead. Anyway since it is free you have nothing to lose downloading it and giving at least an initial attempt to go through it.


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