Statistics 101

Statistics 101: what are statistics and how are they used?

We have all heard random statistics, or ‘stats’, being thrown around at parties or over the coffee machine at work, but do you really know what statistics are and how they are applied in different sectors? Although many of us would describe statistics as ‘facts’ if we were put on the spot, there is much more to them than that.

What are statistics?

Statistics are part of data science, a rich and complex world that informs nearly every aspect of our lives. The field of statistics can be roughly divided into two different categories: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.

Descriptive statistics describe the properties of sample and population data. Inferential statistics, on the other hand, use those same properties to try out different hypotheses and then draw a conclusion.

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Applying statistics to a wider world

We have all heard statistics being used in news media to describe weather patterns, voting results and the goings-on in our communities. However, statistics are also constantly relied upon in the commercial sector to make major decisions for companies of all sizes.

For example, if a product director needs to decide whether or not a particular product should be launched in one region rather than another, they will make this decision after a significant amount of statistics-based research. As you can imagine, it is really important that everyone in the commercial sector – from the leaders of the business world to small business owners – has access to good data derived from solid statistical sources.

Who works with statistics?

Obviously, statistics have an incredibly wide range of different applications in nearly every sector imaginable. Individuals who want to work in statistics can study a science or data-focused degree and learn on the job, or they can study data science at the graduate and postgraduate levels.

There are now many different online master’s degrees that have been designed to help students return to school without compromising their work schedules or needs. For example, Michigan Tech University offers an online master’s in applied statistics program that has been designed to cater to students interested in learning how to interpret and analyze data in a variety of industries and settings.

The benefit of studying statistics: versatility

One of the best things about becoming proficient in data science and statistics is that it is an incredibly versatile skill and knowledge base. Whether you want to work in the commercial sector, in tech development, in media, or even in the governmental, regulatory or NGO sectors, you will be able to find roles where you can apply your skills.

Statistics have arguably never been more important as more and more people have begun to question the veracity of science and facts. There has never been a more important time to learn statistics.

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