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Data Analysis: What Can Be Learned From the Past 50 Years by Peter J. Huber

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CHAPTER 2

STRATEGY ISSUES IN DATA ANALYSIS

This chapter is based on a talk given at the Conference on Statistical Science Honouring the Bicentennial of Stefano Franscini’s Birth, in Ascona, Switzerland, November 18–20, 1996, see Huber (1997b)1.

2.1 STRATEGY IN DATA ANALYSIS

& Tactics teaches the use of armed forces in the engagement; strategy, the use of engagements for the object of the war. (Clausewitz, p. 128) & die Taktik [ist] die Lehre vom Gebrauch der Streitkräfte im Gefecht, die Strategie die Lehre vom Gebrauch der Gefechte zum Zweck des Krieges. (Clausewitz, p. 271)

The word “strategy” – literally: “the leading of the army” – inevitably evokes military associations. One is reminded of two famous classics: Sun Tzu’s astute and realistic “Art of War”, written around 500 BC (here quoted from Griffith’s 1963 translation), and Clausewitz’ comprehensive treatise “Vom Kriege”, published in 1832 after the author’s death (here quoted from the 1984 English translation by Howard and Paret2, and from the 19th German edition of 1991; I am quoting both versions since the translation by Howard and Paret, while accurate, sometimes misses a precise, untranslatable nuance intended by Clausewitz). In data analysis, strategy is a relatively recent innovation. In the 1980s, in a talk on “Environments for supporting statistical strategy” I had quipped that it was difficult to support something which did not exist (Huber 1986b). Today, the joke might no longer be appropriate, but we still are ...

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