Lesson 1: Introduction to Design of Experiments

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In this course we will pretty much cover the textbook - all of the concepts and designs included. I think we will have plenty of examples to look at and experience to draw from.

Please note: the main topics listed in the syllabus follow the chapters in the book.

A word of advice regarding the analyses. The prerequisite for this course is STAT 501 - Regression and STAT 502 - Analysis of Variance. However, the focus of the course is on the design and not on the analysis. Thus, one can successfully complete this course without these prerequisites, with just STAT 500 - Applied Statistics for instance, but it will require much more work, and for the analysis less appreciation of the subtleties involved. You might say it is more conceptual than it is math oriented.

Learning objectives & outcomes

Upon completion of this lesson, you should be able to do the following:

  • understand the issues and principles of Design of Experiments (DOE),
  • understand experimentation is a process,
  • list the guidelines for designing experiments, and
  • recognize the key historical figures in DOE.

Let's start with a simple question...

What is the Scientific Method?

Do you remember learning about this back in high school or junior high even? What were those steps again?

Decide what phenomenon you wish to investigate. Specify how you can manipulate the factor and hold all other conditions fixed, to insure that these extraneous conditions aren't influencing the response you plan to measure.

Then measure your chosen response variable at several (at least two) settings of the factor under study. If changing the factor causes the phenomenon to change, then you conclude that there is indeed a cause-and-effect relationship at work.

How many factors are involved when you do an experiment? Some say two - perhaps this is a comparative experiment? Perhaps there is a treatment group and a control group? If you have a treatment group and a control group then in this case you probably only have one factor with two levels.

How many of you have baked a cake? What are the factors involved to ensure a successful cake? Factors might include preheating the oven, baking time, ingredients, amount of moisture, baking temperature, etc.-- what else? You probably follow a recipe so there are many additional factors that control the ingredients - i.e., a mixture. In other words, someone did the experiment in advance! What parts of the recipe did they vary to make the recipe a success? Probably many factors, temperature and moisture, various ratios of ingredients, and presence or absence of many additives.  Now, should one keep all the factors involved in the experiment at a constant level and just vary one to see what would happen?  This is a strategy that works but is not very efficient.  This is one of the concepts that we will address in this course.

Tasks for this Lesson

  • Read Chapter 1 of the textbook
  • Read the Online supplement for Chapter 1
  • Complete the homework for this lesson.