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What is Statistics?

When many people hear the word “statistics,” they think of either sports-related numbers or government released numbers. However, when used properly, statistics can provide valuable ways of understanding complex data and of telling the story behind the data. There are more relationships between you and statistics than you probably imagine.

So, what is statistics? Several informal definitions are offered in the book A Career in Statistics: Beyond the Numbers by Gerald Hahn and Necip Doganaksoy:

  • The science of learning from (or making sense out of) data
  • The theory and methods of extracting information from observational data for solving real-world problems
  • The science of uncertainty
  • The quintessential interdisciplinary science
  • The art of telling a story with [numerical] data

Statistics is used around the world by governments, political parties, civil servants, financial companies, opinion-polling firms, social researchers, news organizations, and so much more.

Statisticians, the scientists who collect and analyze data, work in many areas that touch your life, including the following:

  • Medicine
  • Economics
  • Agriculture
  • Business
  • Law enforcement
  • Weather forecasting

Statistics is becoming more critical as academia, businesses, and governments come to rely on data-driven decisions, greatly expanding the demand for statisticians.

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