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Row of dice numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 1

FC1x: Fat Chance: Probability from the Ground Up

Course Instructors

      • Benedict Gross; Leverett Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus; Harvard University
      • Joseph Harris; Higgins Professor of Mathematics; Harvard University
      • Emily Riehl; Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics; Johns Hopkins University

Course Description

Created specifically for those who are new to the study of probability, or for those who are seeking an approachable review of core concepts prior to enrolling in a college-level statistics course, Fat Chance prioritizes the development of a mathematical mode of thought over rote memorization of terms and formulae. Through highly visual lessons and guided practice, this course explores the quantitative reasoning behind probability and the cumulative nature of mathematics by tracing probability and statistics back to a foundation in the principles of counting.

What You'll Learn in the Course

In this course you will:

      1. Gain an increased appreciation for, and reduced fear of, basic probability and statistics
      2. Learn how to solve combinatorial counting problems
      3. Learn how to solve problems using basic and advanced probability
      4. Develop an introductory understanding of the normal distribution and its many statistical applications
      5. Recognize common fallacies in probability, as well as some of the ways in which statistics are abused or simply misunderstood

Key Dates

This self-paced course opened on April 24, 2018 and closes on October 23, 2018. The only due date for assessments is the final course end date.

Exercises and Grading

To pass the course, you must earn a grade of 60% or higher.

Each module in the course consists of the following exercises:

    • Practice problems, which are worth 20% of your grade
      • NOTE: All practice problems include OPTIONAL explanation videos called Office Hours. Office Hour videos walk you through practice problems in a step-by-step manner.  
    • Evaluation problems, which are worth 80% of your grade

The grading system will automatically drop your lowest practice set score and your lowest evaluation set score. These drops appear as an "x" in your Progress chart.

Course Outline

This course is cumulative, meaning each module builds and expands upon the concepts covered in the previous module. We recommend that you follow the prescribed sequence.

The modules:

  • Part I: Counting
      • 1 Basic Counting
      • 2 Advanced Counting
  • Part II: Probability
      • 3 Basic Probability
      • 4 Expected Value
      • 5 Conditional Probability
      • 6 Bernoulli Trials
  • Part III: Statistics
      • 7 The Normal Distribution

Honor Code

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Research Statement

HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement to learn more.