Why Study Statistics?
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).
In most disciplines, it is almost never possible to examine or study everything of interest (such as an item, person, business or animal). For example, suppose we are interested in the effect of a certain drug claimed to improve the circulation of blood. We cannot test the drug on everyone!
However, we can test the drug on a selection of people. This rasies a number of questions, however:
- What group of people do we choose? Who should be in the group?
- What can information gathered from a small group of people tell us about the effect of the drug in the population in general?
- Won't the measured effect depend on which people are in the group? Won't it change from one group to the next? So how can any useful information be found?
- How many people should be in such a group to obtain useful information?
To answer these questions, we need statistics.
Statistics appears in almost all areas of science, technology, research, and wherever data is obtained for the purpose of finding information. Statistics has been described as the science of making conclusions in the presence of uncertainity.
Statistics can provide answers to all the questions listed above.
Despite the affinity of statistics with real situations, it has a strong mathematical foundation.