The Manga Guide to Regression Analysis
The latest in this line of educational comics is The Manga Guide to Regression Analysis. It’s written by Shin Takahashi, the author of The Manga Guide to Statistics, one of the earliest of similar works translated over here, with art by Iroha Inoue.
Never have I seen such an adorable way to learn higher-level mathematical techniques. Regression analysis, as the preface tells us, consists of “statistical methods for predicting values”. The main example used here involves two waitresses at a tea shop using observed data to predict how iced tea orders vary with the outside temperature. One expects that you’d sell more of the refreshing beverage when the weather is hotter, but they work out just how much with math. That’s simple regression analysis.
There’s also a chapter on multiple regression analysis, where a result depends on more than one factor. They examine how much business a shop will do based on both its size and its distance from the nearest train station. The book concludes with a chapter on logistic regression analysis, or how to predict the probability of something happening.
As a math major, I’d previously been exposed to the concepts of matrices, differential calculus, logarithms, and standard deviations, but I didn’t know what they could actually be used for. I was really involved in the first chapter, which is a refresher on many of these topics, in order to set up the necessary math knowledge needed for the meat of the book. I had a lot of fun diving into these formulas and examples.
Of course, typical of this series, there’s a romantic element. The younger waitress, Miu, has a crush on one of the regular customers, a boy who comes in to study his advanced math books. The older woman, Risa, agrees to tutor Miu in regression analysis so she can talk to the boy. I was impressed that, although functional, the two also seem like real people in their gestures and emotions.
The art does its job. It’s not intended to stand out, but to make the concepts memorable and provide cute girls to look at while studying math. At that, it succeeds. The characters are fun and lively. It’s encouraging to see someone so eager to learn more about variance analysis and confidence intervals.
Also standard for the series, there are text pages after each chapter that explain the concepts and equations in more detail (because there’s only so much mathematical detail you can put into a comic). This volume also has a section on how to use Microsoft Excel functions to calculate some of the complicated formulas. (The publisher provided a review copy.)