What is statistics? Definition and examples

The word statistics can mean two different things.

Definition #1

Statistics may refer to numerical facts or data after a survey was conducted.

Find below some examples of statistics according the definition #1

  • Number of students who graduate from high school in the United States.
  • Number of students who graduate from college in the state of Massachusetts.
  • Number of people who visits a doctor daily.
  • Number of marriages that end in divorce.
  • Unemployment figures.

For example, saying that about 3 million students graduate from high school each year in the USA, is an example of statistics.

Second, statistics may refer to the field of study. In this sense, we can define statistics as follows.

Definition #2

Statistics may refer to a collection of methods that are used for collecting, organizing, analyzing, presenting, and interpreting data.

Statistics has two aspects and these are theoretical and applied.

Applied statistics involves using formulas, theorems, and laws to solve real-world problems.

Mathematical or theoretical statistics deals with the development of formulas, theorems, and laws. Furthermore, the goal is to prove that these formulas, theorems, and laws are indeed correct.

Decisions made with the use of statistical methods are called educated guesses. On the other hand, when a decision is made without the use of statistical methods, we call this pure guesses. And of course pure guesses are often not reliable.

This unit about statistics will mostly teach you applied statistics. The goal the lessons is to help you think statistically and be able to make some good educated guesses.

Definition of statistics quiz

This quiz will help you become familiar with the following words or expressions.

  • Applied statistics
  • Statistics
  • Theoretical statistics
  • Numerical facts
  • Mathematical statistics
  • Furthermore, you will learn about the different ways to define statistics.

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