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Exit poll for June 8th election: Another stunning success for statistical methods!

The election-day exit poll methods developed by Warwick Statistics professor David Firth surprised the world yet again at 10pm on election day, immediately after the polling stations closed.

The exit poll, commissioned jointly by broadcasters BBC, ITV and Sky, correctly predicted that the Conservatives would be the largest party in a hung parliament as the result of last Thursday's election. This was quite different from what had been expected by most politicians, commentators and the global financial markets — and a long way short of the increased majority that PM Theresa May had wanted when she called a snap election (three years earlier than scheduled).

Professor Firth said:

It's very pleasing that this continues to work so well — and especially pleasing that most people seem now to trust that the exit-poll prediction will usually be fairly accurate, regardless of the various pre-election opinion polls and punditry that might suggest otherwise.

For the full story and details of the methods used, see

Wed 14 Jun 2017, 11:58 | Tags: Dept, CRiSM, ESRC, Science, WDSI, ATI, Faculty of Science

ATI PhD studentships available

Warwick Statistics Department in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute (ATI) is seeking exceptional candidates for doctoral studentships, starting in October 2016. These studentships are open to those who are interested in working on data science and machine learning in the context of Big Data. Overseas applicants are welcome.

For more information, please see the ATI announcement:

Informal enquiries about studying at Warwick Statistics should be directed to

Tue 26 Jan 2016, 11:50 | Tags: Dept, Students, Science, WDSI, ATI, Faculty of Science

High Value Manufacturing Data Summit at The Shard, London: 9th March 2016

What are the analytic challenges holding back high value manufacturing?

How should the emerging discipline of data science – at the intersection of computer science, mathematics, Statistics and systems engineering – address these challenges?

With talks from industry leaders and top data scientists, this summit will create a conversation to steer research at the Alan Turing Institute. Launched in 2015, the Alan Turing Institute is charged with advancing data science research, which includes industrial collaborations that will ultimately produce societal and economic impact.

Full details of the summit, including the list of confirmed speakers, can be found by following this link.

To register your interest for your complimentary place, please email the summit organiser.

Thu 14 Jan 2016, 15:16 | Tags: WDSI, ATI, Faculty of Science

BSc in Data Science featured by Bloomberg

A new Bloomberg Business article, Help Wanted: Black Belts in Data, highlights the high and still growing global demand for people with strong data-analysis skills. The article picks out Warwick's BSc in Data Science course, along with related new initiatives at MIT, as prime examples of how some top universities are working to help meet the demand.

Warwick's course is described in the article as "the first of its kind". Professor David Firth, director of the Warwick Data Science Institute, explains: "Certainly it's the first undergraduate Data Science course in the UK. But its most distinctive feature among the various new 'analytics' courses is that Warwick's BSc develops specifically mathematical talent, in exciting ways that lead to a huge variety of immediate and long-term possibilities after graduation".

David continues: "Our first Data Science BSc students started in 2014 --- a small group of highly qualified and well motivated students who were admitted even before the course had fully appeared in the University's prospectus. Given all the public signals about demand for graduates in this area, we're expecting that many more of the best maths-oriented students will choose Data Science in future."

Mon 08 Jun 2015, 09:52 | Tags: Dept, Students, Science, WDSI, Faculty of Science

Election exit poll: Not quite 'spot on' this time, but another triumph for statistical methods!

The exit-poll design and analysis methods developed by David Firth (with political scientist John Curtice from the University of Strathclyde) were used again at this week's General Election by all of the major UK broadcasters.

At 10pm on election day the on-air seats prediction (simultaneously on BBC, ITV and Sky) based on the exit poll was: Con 316, Lab 239, SNP 58, LD 10, others 27. The actual result of the election was Con 331, Lab 232, SNP 56, LD 8, others 23.

The 2015 exit-poll prediction was thus not "spot on" as it had been in 2005 and 2010. Many commentators had warned beforehand that the 2015 election would be an especially difficult one to predict. The exit-poll prediction was startlingly different from what had been indicated by commercial pre-election voting-intention polls. (e.g., see The Observer on 10 May, After the exit poll, a tsunami raged across the political map) The exit poll strongly indicated the Conservatives as largest party, and the ultimate outcome of a small Conservative majority was clearly not ruled out. This was in stark contrast to predictions from pre-election polls, which had consistently shown Conservative and Labour neck-and-neck with neither party close to an overall majority.

There were some notable public quotes, most prominent of which came from the former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown, who was interviewed soon after 10pm on the BBC:

If this exit poll is right, I will publicly eat my hat on your programme.

(He was referring to the predicted collapse of the Liberal Democrats to just 10 parliamentary seats. In the event, it turned out even worse than that for the Liberal Democrats, who won just 8 seats. Lord Ashdown failed to keep his hat-eating promise, though!)

For more information on the methods and their performance at previous UK general elections, see Exit Polling Explained.

Sun 10 May 2015, 12:48 | Tags: Dept, CRiSM, ESRC, WDSI, EPSRC, Faculty of Science

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