Chapter 1 Introduction

Many people were at first surprised at my using the new words “Statistics” and “Statistical,” as it was supposed that some term in our own language might have expressed the same meaning. But in the course of a very extensive tour through the northern parts of Europe, which I happened to take in 1786, I found that in Germany they were engaged in a species of political inquiry to which they had given the name of “Statistics”…. I resolved on adopting it, and I hope that it is now completely naturalised and incorporated with our language.

– Sinclair, 1791; Vol XX


The problems confronting health professionals today often involve fundamental aspects of device and system analysis, and their design and application. As such they are of extreme importance to engineers and scientists.

Due to many aspects of engineering and scientific practice involving nondeterministic outcomes, understanding and knowledge of statistics is important to any engineer and scientist. Statistics is a guide to the unknown. It is a science that deals with designing experimental protocols; collecting, summarizing, and presenting data; and, most important, making inferences and aiding decisions in the presence of variability and uncertainty. For example, R. A. Fisher's ...

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