College Math Teaching

November 29, 2016

Facebook data for a statistics class

Filed under: statistics — Tags: , , , — collegemathteaching @ 6:04 pm

I have to admit that teaching statistics has kind of ruined me. I find myself seeking patterns and data sets everywhere.

Now a national election does give me some data to play with; I used 2012 data for those purposes a few years ago.

But now I have Facebook. And I have a very curious Facebook friendship (I won’t embarrass the person by naming the person).

She became my FB friend in January of 2014. Lately, we’ve been talking a lot, mostly about the 2016 general election. But we went a long time without conversing via “private message”.

I noticed in the first 560 days of our FB “friendship” we exchanged 30 private messages. Then we started to talk more and more. $t$ is time in days since we started to talk (March 2014) and $NMSG$ is the cumulative number of private messages that we exchanged:

So I figured: this has to be an example of an exponential situation, so I ran a regression $r^2 \geq 0.99$ and got: $N = .1248e^{.010835 t}$ where $N$ is the number of messages and $t$ is the time in days.

Of course, practically speaking, this can’t continue but this “virtually zero” for a long time followed by an “explosion” is a classical exponential phenomenon.