"Out of India"

Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at internet.no
Mon Dec 2 22:55:29 UTC 1996

>In cluster analysis, the aim is to study how the different variables
>or different subjects group together. The results can be displayed
>as a tree diagram. Closest neighbors are grouped together
>and joined to a single vertex. Something not more closely related to
>some compared to the others is left as an isolated twig. Then this
>process is repeated with each group obtained at this stage. This is the
>kind of diagram that is found in write-ups of the `African Eve' theory,
>for example.

It should be added that there are several algorithms for cluster analysis
that yield somewhat different results. It would be foolhardy simply to
produce a cluster analysis and accept the result as authoritative, several
attempts with different sets of criteria and different algorithms would have
to be done. 

>It may be worthwhile if Indology courses did require a course in
>understanding statistics. For example, a rank correlation test on
>the different attempts to arrange the books of Rgveda in a
>chronological sequence would be eye opening.

This has been attempted by Walter Wuest, but the result is not quite as
eye-opening as one would wish. Since I wrote my thesis on the use of
statistics in Indology, I second the opinion that such methods are valuable,
but they are fraught with a large number of theoretical and practical
difficulties that have to be solved. If anything is to be gained by using
statistical methods in the study of Sanskrit texts, that "anything" will be
gained with a great deal of very hard, painstaking drudgery, not to mention
the problem of communicating the result to one's non-statistical colleagues

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

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