STT 861 [Section 1], Fall 2020 Syllabus

Department of Statistics and Probability

InstructorAshoke Kumar Sinha
Email: [emails checked at least twice daily, last check daily around 10.00 p.m., answered within 24 hours]
Phone: None
Office Hour: Mondays and Wednesdays (except on holidays) 3.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. - Zoom link: Passcode: stt861.
If the above time slots do not work, please make an appointment with me.

Graduate Assistant: Yiqing Wei


This Syllabus serves for STT 861 for Fall 2020. The course instructor reserves the right to make revisions to the Syllabus and the course schedule that he considers to be academically advisable. Changes will be announced on the course web page and by email. It is students' responsibility to keep up with any changed policies and assignments. 

All times mentioned in this document are Eastern Time.

Important Dates

Course Information

Required Course Materials:

Required Technologies

Important information about technologies:

Course Delivery Modality:

STT 861 is scheduled as a partly hybrid and partly online synchronous class. However due to present coronavirus pandemic situation, the lectures will be delivered only in the online synchronous mode.

Course Description

This course is the first of the series STT 861-862. The content of STT 861 is non-measure theoretic probability, while the content of STT 862 is statistics. Here probability will be introduced as a set-function satisfying certain axioms, and we shall develop further properties starting from those axioms. This course serves as a prerequisite for in STT 881 (a graduate course about measure theoretic probability).

Learning Objectives

We shall cover selected topics from chapters 1-5 of the textbook. This includes topics such as:

  1. Probability axioms and rules, basic combinatorics, probability models.
  2. Random variables and random vectors.
  3. Expected values, covariance matrices, moment generating functions.
  4. Probability inequalities.
  5. Transformation of random variables.
  6. Special distributions including exponential family.
  7. Convergence in probability and distribution.
  8. Weak Law of Large Numbers and Lyapunov Central Limit Theorem.

Course Components

Lecture Materials:

Some lecture notes and Zoom recordings will be uploaded on D2L.


Homework will be regularly assigned through out the course and will be posted on the D2L website. You have to submit your homework assignment also in D2L before If you miss the deadline but submit within 24 hours you will get 70% of the credit. Later homework submission is given no credit. There is no make-up for homework. The homework with the lowest percentage score will be dropped.

Furthermore, there will also be many suggested problems, which you should practice, but they will not be collected and graded.


There will be two mid-term exams (namely Exam 1 and Exam 2) and a final exam. If you cannot take an exam, contact the instructor as soon as possible to make other arrangements - make up exams will be given only in case of verifiable excuses. More information on the exams will be given later. According to the MSU's final exam policy, missing the final exam will automatically result in a 0 grade.

Grading Policy:

The final score will be based on:

Grading is distributed according to the following scale:

Course Policies

Communication Policy:


The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, has been declared a worldwide pandemic. The COVID-19 virus is extremely contagious and is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person contact. The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented public health crisis that has impacted every facet of life, including the classroom environment. So it is essential that we protect ourselves and people close to us by abiding the instructions as detailed in the websites MSU: Keeping Spartans Safe.

Late Work Policy and Makeups:

Working together:

Students are encouraged to discuss homework problems, but are prohibited from copying solutions from other students or other sources (such as solution manuals). Working together can be a great way to facilitate learning. On the other hand, each student should ultimately do the work, and should understand the questions and the solutions. If someone else does the heavy lifting and you just take advantage of this work, you may get good grades on homework, but you will not learn the material well and will struggle on exams.

Learning Continuity Statement:

In a situation if you are unable to engage in course content for a prolonged period it is critically important for you to communicate with your instructor promptly. In extreme cases where a student cannot reliably progress through course content for more than one week, they should inform the instructional team immediately, and if the student can provide documentation of the obstacle they face, we intend to work hard to accommodate their situation with empathy.

Course Continuity Statement:

An alternative instructor may continue this class in case I have to be absent. We may have pre-recorded videos for the class. Thus, we do not anticipate any issues arising if the instructor is absent for an extended period. I will let you know in advance. Communications through e-mails should remain in place.

Student Expectations:

All participants in this class are held to the standards set by MSU’s Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades. The policy can be read in full at the Office of the University Ombudsperson website.

Student Rights and Responsibilities:

Students have a range of support and information options available to them to discuss actions or activities related to their academic, personal or professional lives at MSU. These rights and resources are detailed on the Office of the University Ombudsperson website.

Grief Absences and Mental Health:

If a student experiences death of a family member or emotional distress from a similar tragedy, refer to MSU's Grief Absence Policy.

Academic Honesty:

The Department of Statistics and Probability adheres to the policies of academic honesty as specified in the General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarships and Grades, and in the All-University of Integrity of Scholarships and Grades which are included in Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide. Plagiarism or any other sort of fraudulent behavior in exam and/or homework assignment will result in an automatic zero in that exam and/or homework assignment.

Disability Access:

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a Verified Individual Services Accommodation (VISA) form. This form should be presented to your instructor during the first week of the semester. If the VISA is issued during the semester, it should be presented to the instructor as soon as it is issued. Late requests may not be honored.