Advertisements often claim that data show the superiority of the advertiser’s product. The word statistics, which is derived from the word ‘state’, entered the English vocabulary in the eighteenth century. It was used then, and still is used, to mean one or more sets of numerical data on various items like population, taxes, wealth, exports, imports, crop production, etc., which are of interest to state officials. There are two ways to use the word statistics. If we say ‘statistics is ‘we are generally referring to the science of statistics. If we say ‘the statistics are’, we are referring to numbers such as batting averages, the number of unemployed during the month of October, or the number of deaths from malaria during a given year. It is hard to come up with a concise definition of statistics because it is a broad subject that has many facets. Commonly, it is believed that statistics involves the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data.
There are several reasons why the scope of statistics and the need to study the subject statistics have grown enormously in the last fifty years. One reason is the increasingly quantitative approach employed in all the sciences, as well as in business and many other activities which directly affect our lives. This includes the use of mathematical techniques in the evaluation of anti-pollution controls, in inventory planning, in the analysis of traffic patterns, in the evaluation of teaching techniques and so forth. The other reasons are that the volume of data that is collected processed and disseminated to the public for one reason or the other has increased almost beyond comprehension. More and more persons with some knowledge of statistics are therefore needed to take an active part in the collection and analysis of the data, as also in all of the preliminary planning. Observation before it is arranged and analyzed is called raw data. For data to be useful, our observations need to be organized so that we can pick out trends and come to logical conclusions.
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