University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Dept. of Health Services Policy and Management

Last modified Thursday, 18th April, 2013, 09:16am

Checklist. If you are not planning to do your work in our computer lab, you will need:

1/14/13: If you see security messages, do go ahead and activate the Java add-on or plug-in. There is a recently-discovered security hole in Java that, hopefully, will be fixed soon. Meantime, I promise that my stuff is safe.
If there is a small red Lego piece to the left of "," use these instructions.

Dr. Baker with the Harvard Mark I computer (1944)

Quantitative Methods for Health Administration
Spring 2013

Samuel L. Baker, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus
Please include 716 in the subject.

No office, no phone. Office hours: Look for me in the computer lab Mondays, 1pm-4pm. Other days and times can be arranged by appointment.

Class meets Mondays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Wardlaw 116. Classes are live-streamed and can be viewed later by registered students.

Date Assignment due Discussion topic and readings
Jan. 14   Introduction to spreadsheets and econometrics 
Introductory probability and statistics review HTML
Simple Regression Theory I
Li'l lecture: Points and a line on a graph
Li'l lecture: What a linear model means HTML
Li'l lecture: The true line and the regression line HTML
Li'l lecture: Least squares demonstrated HTML
Assignment 1 PDF

Assignment 1A PDF (Simple Regression Theory II may be helpful.)
Jan. 21 Nothing due No Class
Jan. 28 1 (and, if you have time, 1A)
Data for Assignment 1 HTML
Graph paper PDF from
How to draw Assignment 1's graph HTML

Data for the last part of Assignment 1A HTML
Tables for hypothesis tests PDF for 1A and later assignments.

Assumptions behind using linear regression, assessing the fit and the prediction, hypothesis tests
Simple Regression Theory II PDF
Class demos about regression HTML
The Philosophy of Hypothesis Testing PDF

Excel charts
Assignment 2 instructions PDF
(If you are using an older Excel version, these old instructions show how to graph in Excel 2000 or 2003. The assignment has changed since 2003, so read this year's instructions for what to send me.)
Feb. 4 1A and 2
Answer Checker for assignment 2 HTML I recommend that you start this Answer Checker once you have completed the work for Clinic 1. The Answer Checker finishes with help for the confidence interval calculation.
Multiple regression
Multiple regression theory PDF
Instructions for Assignment 3 PDF

Mac users: Instructions for Assignment 3 and for getting LS.

Feb. 11 3
Getting data for assignment 3 -- for Windows computers only HTML

Mac users: Instructions for Assignment 3 and for getting LS. You'll download the Assignment 3 data generating program and the LS program, and run them on your Mac.

LS -- only for Windows computers HTML
Comment hints HTML
Multicollinearity in regression
Assignment 4 instructions PDF
Feb. 18 4
Data for assignments 4&5 Excel
LS for Windows users HTML
Mac users: Follow the instructions on the second page of this pdf.
Answer Checker HTML Includes help with calculating the F-test and with writing your comment on the F-test and t-test results.
Heteroskedasticity, nonlinear regression
Non-linear regression PDF
Assignment 5 PDF
Feb. 25 5
Mac users: Follow the instructions on the second page of this pdf.
If you get stuck, you can get ideas from the Answer Checker HTML
Time series analysis
Dummy variables and time series PDF
Assignment 6 PDF
Mar. 4 6
Data for Assignment 6 Excel
Mac users: Follow the instructions on the second page of this pdf.
Answer Checker HTML
Queuing theory introduction
Queuing Theory I, Assignments 7 and 7A PDF
Demonstrations used in class HTML
Mar. 11 Nothing due No Class
Mar. 18 7, 7A
The Answer Checker HTML features a partial walk-through for 7A's last question.
Queuing theory advanced models
Queuing Theory II, Assignments 8 and 8A PDF
Queuing Theory Cookbook PDF
Queuing theory cookbook with named cells HTML
Mar. 25 Nothing due No Class
Apr. 1 8 The Answer Checker HTML will help you start right and finish right.
8A Answer Checker HTML
What-if analysis
What-If Analysis and Assignment 9 PDF
Just for fun: A cautionary tale about Excel
Apr. 8 9 Answer Checker for part 1 HTML
Download file for Contest Excel
Linear programming introduction
Linear Programming I, Assignment 10 PDF
Apr. 15 10 Answer Checker HTML
Please see the left column for instructions for installing Solver.

Excel 2007 Vista Solver bug! When you ask for the Reports after solving, you may get an error message box. Here is a workaround -- it involves removing and then re-adding Solver. If that doesn't work, e-mail me your spreadsheet.

Linear programming, scheduling
Linear Programming II, Assignment 11 PDF

Another Excel coding error, this one contributing to wrong results in an influential paper about national debt and a nation's viability.

Apr. 22 11 Answer Checker HTML Project planning, critical path method (CPM)
CPM instructions, Assignment 12 HTML I recommend opening this HTML file in its own window and having Excel and Pathfind each open in separate windows. On a Windows computer, use Alt+Tab to move among open windows.
Apr. 29 12
Pathfind HTML
Mac users: Instructions for getting Pathfind.
Answer Checker HTML
Decision Theory
Decision Theory, Assignment 13 PDF
Tricky extra-credit question HTML
May 6 13 due No class meeting

Goal of the course: To make you a confident user and consumer of quantitative methods, by showing you the mechanics and the ideas behind selected quantitative methods applicable to health administration.

Instructional method: Learning by doing. You will apply the methods presented in class in homework exercises due each week.

Required work: The weekly assignments are the only required work in the course. No examinations.

Prerequisite: BIOS 700 or its equivalent with permission of the instructor. This course builds on the statistics concepts and the computer experience in BIOS 700. If you can understand this introductory probability and statistics review, you should be OK.

Readings: Downloadable pdf files. A free pdf file reader can be downloaded from (If you download this, uncheck any checkboxes that offer software that you don't need.) There is no book to buy.

Downloading all of the readings at the start of the semester is not recommended. I may revise some readings as I notice errors or get ideas for improvements. Instead, download each week's materials when you are about to start that week's work or want to give yourself a lecture preview.

Required computer access: Every course assignment will require using a computer. You may do course assignments in our computer lab, Room 124 of the Arnold School of Public Health's old building (HESC). If you wish to work elsewhere, you must have access to a computer with a full-featured spreadsheet program and internet access with a browser that can do Java.

 Testing Java 

1/14/13: If there is a small red Lego icon to the left of "" near the top of your browser window, use these instructions.

If your Java version, Java is not working. Check your browser's settings to see if Java is present but disabled. (Internet Explorer 6 calls it Microsoft VM, under Tools | Internet Options | Security | Custom Level .), does not show or is less than 1.5, download and install a new Java. It's free at
If you did that and you still don't see the version number.

Internet access, with a web browser with Java, will enable you to download data for assignments, use course software, read about bugs and last-minute changes, and use the Answer Checkers. (Answer checkers let you know instantly whether you are on the right track as you do assignments.) If you do not have internet access or cannot get Java to work, plan to spend time in our lab.

Full-featured spreadsheets:

Microsoft Excel OK! Office Mac users can download Solver for no charge at
Corel Quattro Pro OK
Lotus 1-2-3 OK
Microsoft Works Not OK -- limited features, incompatible file format with Excel
Sun StarOffice OK, but I haven't tried its Solver.

You'll get keystroke-by-keystroke instructions for doing the assignments with Excel, run under Microsoft Windows . All of the course assignments can be done with recent versions of Excel, Quattro Pro, and Lotus 1-2-3. Course data files will be provided in a format that all of these programs can read. Students using spreadsheets other than Excel will have to translate the instructions to fit their particular programs. The spreadsheet with Microsoft Works is not good enough, sorry.

Solver: Several of the course exercises use Excel's Solver. This is not installed by the default installation of Excel. If the Solver icon is not under the Data tab in Excel for the PC (under tools in old Excel versions), here is how to install it:

Homework: A write-up is mandatory. The write-up should answer the assignment's questions in sentences. It is good to also turn in your spreadsheet file. That can help a lot if I need to track down an error. Your spreadsheet can be in a separate file from your write-up, or you can include your write-up in the spreadsheet.

Most homework assignments have an online Answer Checker. It can tell you if you are on the right track, and give you hints.

Turning in homework: Use Blackboard's  Assignments  feature.

Blackboard's  Assignments  allows you to include a spreadsheet file as an attachment. Your write-up can go in the text box, in an attached word processor file, or it can be incorporated into a spreadsheet file that you attach. A few assignments require your doing something on paper. You may bring the paper to my office or to class on the due date. Alternatively, you may scan it and attach it to what you submit on Blackboard.

How to attach more than one file for a Blackboard assignment: Do not hit Submit until you have added all your files. Attach your first file by browsing for it. Then hit the "Add another file document" button. That should let you browse for your second file. Repeat until you have added all the files you want. Hitting Save along the way is useful if you do not have all your files ready to attach right now. When you can see on Blackboard's assignment submission form a complete list of the files you had wanted to attach, then and only then hit Submit. Once you hit Submit, Blackboard will not allow you to go back and attach or change anything.

Guidelines for helping other students and getting help from other students

Helping another student is a great way to learn, and a great way to make a friend. Be careful, however, to follow these guidelines.

For helpers:

  • Do discuss concepts and methods
  • Do show your friend how to do something that is stumping him or her
  • Do not give a copy of your answers to your friend

For help-ees:

  • Do ask about concepts that you don't get
  • Do ask for advice if you're stuck
  • Do not accept a copy of someone else's answers

The assignments in this course are intended to be individual work, not team efforts. The goal is for you to have confidence that you can do this.

By the way, I like explaining things. Feel free to ask me for help, by e-mail or when I'm around.

Grades in HSPM J716

Each week's assignment is worth 4 points, if done well.
There are 13 assignments, so a perfect score for the semester is 52.
For this grade At least this many points
A 49
B+ 42
B 36
C+ 29
C 22

Some weeks have their assignment split into two parts. Each part is worth 2 points, so that the total for the week is 4 points. For example, assignments 8 and 8A are due the same day. They are worth 4 points together.

Fixing errors in homework

Credit will be deducted for erroneous or missing answers. You will be encouraged to fix your errors and omissions and get full credit for the assignment. (If it close to the end of semester, I will not guarantee review of late old assignments.)

For Students Working in Our Lab

The BlueCross BlueShield and Companion Technologies Computer Education Center -- our "lab" -- has computers that you can use to do this course's assignments. To work in the lab, you need a storage device to store your files. Your alternatives are:
Storage Technology Advantages Disadvantages Access as
Hard drive of lab computer Already paid for. May be erased at any time! When we upgrade software, we often overwrite the hard disks of lab computers. Local Disk (C:)
Writable CDs and DVDs Fairly cheap. Bulky. Awkward to change once you have saved, even if you are using RW disks. Bright sunlight can erase them. DVD drive (D:)
Thumb-sized USB flash drive Reliable. Enough capacity for all your courses. Moderately expensive. Easy to lose. Removable (E:)

Specific Learning Objectives

  1. Spreadsheet and Presentation Graphics Skills
    1. Students will demonstrate an ability to use a computer-based spreadsheet as a tool for organizing data and making calculations. (All assignments)
    2. Students will demonstrate an ability to create graphs that present data clearly. (Assignment 2)
  2. Econometrics and Forecasting
    1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the theory behind regression-based forecasting methods. (Assignments 1-6)
    2. Students will demonstrate an ability to present a reasonable analysis of time series data, including a forecast with a statement of justification and limitations. (Assignment 6)
  3. Queuing Theory
    1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the theory behind standard methods of analyzing the dynamics of queues (waiting lines), including the assumptions behind and limitations of that theory. (Assignments 7 and 8)
    2. Students will demonstrate an ability to analyze specific queuing situations. (Assignments 7 and 8)
  4. What-If Analysis
    1. Students will demonstrate an ability to do What-If analysis, and an understanding of the limitations of What-If analysis. (Assignment 9)
  5. Linear Programming
    1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the theory of optimization under constraint where the constraints and objective function are linear. (Assignments 10 and 11)
    2. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the scope and limitations of the applicability of linear programming theory. (Assignments 10 and 11)
    3. Students will demonstrate an ability to analyze specific linear programming problems. (Assignments 10 and 11)
  6. Project Planning / Critical Path Analysis
    1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the scope of network analysis theory. (Assignment 12)
    2. Students will demonstrate an ability to apply the Critical Path Method to a specific problem. (Assignment 12)
  7. Decision Theory
    1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of basic ideas and methods in decision theory. (Assignment 13)
    2. Students will demonstrate an ability to apply these ideas to a specific problem. (Assignment 13)
  8. Writing skills -- Students will demonstrate an ability to present clearly and accurately the results of mathematical analysis. (All sessions)

Student performance of these objectives will be evaluated by weekly assignments.

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of South Carolina.