What is statistics?Statistics are used everywhere; we see statistics in use every day. For example:
- The weather man said it's going to rain tomorrow...how does he know?
- When the doctor prescribes you a pill, how does she know that it's going to make you better?
- What makes the government think that bike helmets save lives?
- How does the toothpaste company know that particular shade of purple is a real winner with the 12 to 15 year olds?
- How do the environmentalists tell how many tonnes of native animals are being eaten by feral cats in the whole of Australia each year?
- How did they know there are planets in other solar systems when they can't even see them?
- How do they know how many people there are?
- How do they know how many are unemployed?
- How do you know when you're too fat?
- How do we know that Shakespeare had a superior vocabulary?
All of these questions-and more!-can only be answered using statistics!
Statistics is a collection of mathematical tools and techniques which are used extensively in research and problem solving to answer questions like those posed above. Statistical methods play a key role in all branches of science, engineering and economics.
In short, statistics is a very practical discipline, concerned about real problems in the real world. It has applications in:
- biology (biostatistics or biometrics);
- computing or computer science (statistical computing is a highly sought-after skill);
- economics (econometrics);
- finance (financial statistics);
- psychology (psychometrics);
- physics (statistical physics is a modern discipline in physics);
- the health industry (medical statistics).