What is Statistics?

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Statistics is the science and practice of developing human knowledge through the use of empirical data expressed in quantitative form. It is based on statistical theory which is a branch of applied mathematics. Within statistical theory, randomness and uncertainty are modelled by probability theory. Because one aim of statistics is to produce the "best" information from available data, some authors consider statistics a branch of decision theory. Statistical practice includes the planning, summarizing, and interpreting of observations, allowing for variability and uncertainty


The word statistics comes from the modern Latin phrase statisticum collegium (lecture about state affairs), from which came the Italian word statista meaning "statesman" or "politician" (cf. status) and the German Statistik, originally designating the analysis of data about the state). It acquired the meaning of the collection and classification of data generally in the early nineteenth century. It was introduced into English by Sir John Sinclair thus, the original principal purpose of statistics was data to be used by governmental and (often centralized) administrative bodies.

The collection of data about states and localities continues, largely through national and international statistical services; in particular, censuses provide regular information about the population. Today, however, the use of statistics has broadened far beyond the service of a state or government, to include such areas as business, natural and social sciences, and medicine, among others.

The earliest seeds arose in geometric diagrams and in the making of maps to aid in navigation and exploration. By the 16th century, techniques and instruments for precise observation and measurement of physical quantities were well-developed- the beginnings of the husbandry of visualization. The 17th century saw great new growth in theory and the dawn of practice- the rise of analytic geometry, theories of errors of measurement, the birth of probability theory, and the beginnings...