Statistics can be defined as a collection of techniques used when planning a data collection, and when subsequently analyzing and presenting data.
Dating back to ancient times people have needed knowledge about population size, to carry out a census of the armies or calculate expected taxes. The word statistics is derived from the word “status” (originally coming from Latin); and it was exactly the status of society, which was the subject of the first statistics! Later emerged probability theory (in connection with games!), demographics and insurance science as areas, in which statistical thinking was essential. In today’s digital age it is easy to collect as well as process and disseminate data, and therefore statistics is used for a variety of surveys throughout society.
Most statistical surveys can be divided into the following phases:
- Clarification of concepts
- Planning of data collection
- Data collection
- Analysis and presentation of data
- Conclusion Statistical methods (and statisticians!) are particularly useful in phases 2 and 4 of the survey.
There are two kinds of statistics:
Descriptive statistics means describing data using tables, charts and simple statistical calculations such as averages, percentages, etc. This is what many people understand by the word “statistics”. It was also the kind of statistics that was produced in ancient times.
Analytical statistics is used to assess differences and relationships in data. For example, we could examine whether there is a relation between height and weight of a group of persons; or whether there is a difference between height of boys and height of girls, as well as provide an estimate of how large this difference is. Analytical statistics is a mathematical discipline, based on calculus of probability.
It is a relatively new discipline that has been developed throughout the twentieth century.