Course Policies for Statistics 434 --- A Wharton Undergraduate Course---

Stat 434 Financial Time Series ---

Course Policies

A statistics course
committed to honest data analysis,
focused on mastery of best-practice models,
and obsessed with the dynamics of financial markets

Course Policies (Auditing, Windows PC Access, Teams, Homework, Missed Classes, Lap Tops/Cell Phones/PDAs, Final Projects)

Auditing is No Longer Possible

The class room for our class has 40 seats and there are 40 students registered for the class. For this reason, and for the reason of coherence, it is no longer possible to audit Statistics 434. If you are a graduate student, or a very well-prepared well-focused undergraduate you are encouraged to take a look at the closely related Statistics 956: Computational and Financial Statistics . It is offered in the fall and does have the flexibility to admit auditors.

Proprietary Access to a Windows PC

Everyone in the class must have proprietary access to a Windows PC. The course is built around the software S-Plus, and it is not available for Unix or the Mac. Also, our software license does not permit the installation on public machines.

Over several years I have tried to help students work around this constraint, and it has never been successful. The bottom line is that for this course, you absolutely positively must have a Windows PC.

Teams and Partners

Everyone in the class is required to have a partner. You are encouraged to work on your homework with your partner and to submit your work as a team effort. You can do your work individually if you really prefer, but, for reasons given below, you will still need to have a partner. Teams of more than two people are possible only in very rare instances and require special permission.

Homework Solutions?

People sometimes ask if I will be posting solutions to the homework.

I will not be putting up solutions, though solutions will almost always be discussed in class on the day that the assignment is due. I have a zillion reasons for this, and laziness, though a factor, is no where near the top of the list. The main reason is that solutions really must be discussed face to face, because if something was puzzling about the original assignment, then nine times out of ten, it will be just as puzzling in a written-out solution.

The other reasons for not posting solutions are (1) many assignments will deal with individual stock selections, and different students will get different answers, (2) most students (hurray!) really do almost perfectly on most assignments, (3) when someone does make a slip, it is usually an accident that becomes quite clear when the problems are discussed in class, and (4) a "standardized" solution takes too much fun out of our quest.

In this course it really is possible to make your own genuine discoveries.

Missed Classes

Many people in the class are seniors, and they may need to miss a class or two for job interviews.

Interviewing is an important process, and such absences do not require advanced permission --- except in the case of the last four classes when we will be discussing the final projects and students will be making project proposals.

If you do miss a class, you are still responsible for the learning the material that was covered and for submitting your homework on time. Since the lecture material is essential for doing the homework, you should coordinate with your partner to learn any material that was missed.

I will post bullet point outlines for all classes, but these are far too skimpy to make up for the class notes. As I mentioned elsewhere, these are more like movie trailers than Cliff Notes.

In general, it is NOT SENSIBLE to expect that I will be able to "fill you in" on the material of a missed class. The office hours are an important asset for students in the class, but clearly they cannot make up for missed lectures or incompletely mastered prerequisites. The missed classes will have to be covered by your partner, and incompletely master prerequisites will have to be covered by private tutors, or by arranging to take 434 at a later time.

The best plan is always to get the handouts and get the notes from your team mate.

Please, No Lap Tops, Cell Phones, PDAs, or Food in Class

Please remember to turn off your cell phones when class begins. Also, please do not open lap tops or PDAs. Finally, but most critically, do not bring food to class. I know that it is at 1:30 and you may have some great reason why you can eat your Cesar Salad without disturbing anyone, but the fact is that our room is packed and food will be more annoying to more people than you can ever imagine.

It is (marginally) OK to have a soft drink or coffee, but please be very considerate of you neighbors and of general classroom tidiness.

It is also (marginally) OK to use a flat tablet for note taking --- but please don't abuse this slack.

FINAL PROJECTS and Requests for Time Extensions

The Final Projects are due at Noon on the date that is listed in the university calendar for the final exams. Please read that table carefully, and also attend to the announcements that will be made in class and on the course blog.

I guarantee you that there will be ZERO ambiguity about the day the final projects are due.

  • Late projects will be penalized at the rate of one letter grade per day. This is a HUGE penalty for tardiness.
  • Please do not contact me about exceptions to this. This rule is cut in stone --- for a zillion good reasons.
  • In the case of a true personal emergency, please speak to the relevant university councilor and have the councilor contact me officially. We can then set up a fair process based on individual circumstances and university policies.
  • Please understand that LATE PROJECTS are something everyone has to do everything possible to avoid.
  • This policy may seem draconian, but it exists to guarantee fairness to everyone.
  • I am confident that you can appreciate why it is necessary to take such a hard line on this. The policy is based on many, many years of experience. Still, if you really do want to discuss this policy (hopefully in the abstract) then, of course, feel free to contact me.

In addition to the final project, there is also the "final project proposal." This is a short (10 minute) oral presentation about what you intend to do on the final project.

To prepare for this proposal you are expected to have done most (or all) of the data acquisition you need for the project. You are also expected to have outlined what you think are (a) the most basic deliverables and (b) the "potential" of the project --- or what it could provide if it were as successful as you ever imagined.

The project proposals will be scheduled after Thanksgiving. There is flexibility in the scheduling at that time, but not after that time. Once you commit to a presentation time it is as serious as any commitment you can imagine.




^ Top | Steele Home Page | 434 Course Home Page
Copyright © J. Michael Steele