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Unit of study_

STAT3021: Stochastic Processes

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

A stochastic process is a mathematical model of time-dependent random phenomena and is employed in numerous fields of application, including economics, finance, insurance, physics, biology, chemistry and computer science. This unit will establish basic properties of discrete-time Markov chains including random walks and branching processes. This unit will derive key results of Poisson processes and simple continuous-time Markov chains. This unit will investigate simple queuing theory. This unit will also introduce basic concepts of Brownian motion and martingales. Throughout the unit, various illustrative examples are provided in modelling and analysing problems of practical interest. By completing this unit, you will develop an essential basis for further studies stochastic analysis, stochastic differential equations, stochastic control, financial mathematics and statistical inference.

Unit details and rules

Unit code STAT3021
Academic unit Mathematics and Statistics Academic Operations
Credit points 6
STAT3911 or STAT3011 or STAT3921 or STAT4021
Assumed knowledge

Students are expected to have a thorough knowledge of basic probability and integral calculus

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Qiying Wang,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Exam
written exam (online)
60% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Assignment Assignment 1
written paper work
5% Week 04 days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO10
In-semester test (Record+) Type B in-semester exam Quiz
consist of short answer questions.
25% Week 07
Due date: 04 Apr 2022 at 12:00
50 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO10
Assignment Assignment 2
written paper work
10% Week 12 days
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Type B in-semester exam = Type B in-semester exam ?
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas

Final exam: If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as a viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning outcomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator. 

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Representing complete or close to complete mastery of the material.


75 - 84

Representing excellence, but substantially less than complete mastery.


65 - 74

Representing a creditable performance that goes beyond routine knowledge and understanding, but less than excellence.


50 - 64

Representing at least routine knowledge and understanding over a spectrum of topics and important ideas and concepts in the course.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Preliminaries: moment generating function, joint distribution, conditional probability and conditional expectation, random sum and basic concepts of stochastic processes. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1
Week 02 Markov chain: transition probabilities, Chapman-Kolmogorov equations, and classification of states. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO2
Week 03 Markov Chain: Periodicity, recurrence and transience, positive and null recurrences. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 04 Markov Chain: limit distribution, stationary distribution, absorption probability and mean return time. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 05 Random walk and Branching processes: Gambler's ruin problem, expected duration, extinction probability Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO4
Week 06 Random walk and Branching processes: expected duration, extinction probability, Weeks 1-6 revision Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Quiz 1, basic properties of Poisson distribution and exponential distribution Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 08 Poisson processes: definition, interarrival and arrival (waiting) times, conditional distribution of arrival time. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 09 Poisson processes: splitting and merging a Poisson process, nonhomogeneous Poisson process and compound Poisson process Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 10 Continuous-time Markov chains: definition and basic properties, the Embedded Markov Chain and the generator matrix, forward and backward Equations, stationary and limit distributions. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO7
Week 11 Simple queuing theory: the $M/M/1$ queue, the $M/M/1$ queue with finite capacity and the $M/M/k, k\ge 1,$ queue Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO8
Week 12 Introduction to BM and martingale and Weeks 7-12 revision Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 13 Revision, Assignments revisited and pass exams. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. explain and be able to apply the fundamentals of probability theory and stochastic processes
  • LO2. construct a discrete-time Markov chain and identify its transition probability matrix from practical problem settings
  • LO3. explain and be able to apply limit theorems of discrete-time Markov chains and use those to identify and interpret their stationary distribution
  • LO4. explain Gambler's ruin problem and calculate extinction probability
  • LO5. explain the basic properties of the Poisson process and use these to solve problems
  • LO6. construct a Poisson process and identify its parameter from practical problem settings
  • LO7. construct a continuous-time Markov chain and identify its generator from practical problem settings
  • LO8. explain the length in the queue and solve simple waiting time problems
  • LO9. explain definitions of Brownian and martingales
  • LO10. write proofs and apply the theory in diverse applications.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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