What is Statistics?
Statistics is a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of masses of numerical data. People also use the word statistics to refer to a collection of quantitative data.
Statistics are used all the time in the real world. Some fields where the use of statistics is common are:
- Medical field
- Weather forecasting
The best question you can ask yourself when trying to find statistics is:
Who/(what group) would be interested in collecting, analyzing, and publishing the data I am looking for?
For example, who would be interested in collection, analyzing, and publishing data on crime in the United States?
Answer: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
The FBI publishes lots of crime reports and other data related to criminal justice.
It takes a lot of time, effort, and often money to create statistics. Because of this it is important to remember a few things:
- A group, agency, research, etc. must be interested in collecting, analyzing, and making available statistics
- The exact statistic you are looking for may not exist
- You may need to use older data than you originally wanted to
- For instance, the Census happens every ten years!