1. Statistical Consulting Centre
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  3. What is Statistics?

Even though you may not have realised it, you probably have made some statistical statements in your everyday conversation or thinking. Statements like "I sleep for about eight hours per night on average" and "You are more likely to pass the exam if you start preparing earlier" are actually statistical in nature.

What is statistics?

Statistics is a discipline which is concerned with:

  • designing experiments and other data collection,
  • summarizing information to aid understanding,
  • drawing conclusions from data, and
  • estimating the present or predicting the future.

The two statements at the beginning illustrate some of these points.

In making predictions, Statistics uses the companion subject of Probability, which models chance mathematically and enables calculations of chance in complicated cases.

Today, statistics has become an important tool in the work of many academic disciplines such as medicine, psychology, education, sociology, engineering and physics, just to name a few. Statistics is also important in many aspects of society such as business, industry and government. Because of the increasing use of statistics in so many areas of our lives, it has become very desirable to understand and practise statistical thinking. This is important even if you do not use statistical methods directly.