# Chapter 1. Evaluating Data in the Real World

In This Chapter

• Introducing statistical concepts

• Generalizing from samples to populations

• Getting into probability

• Making decisions

• New features in Excel 2007

• Understanding important Excel Fundamentals

• New features in this edition

The field of statistics is all about decision-making — decision-making based on groups of numbers. Statisticians constantly ask questions: What do the numbers tell us? What are the trends? What predictions can we make? What conclusions can we draw?

To answer these questions, statisticians have developed an impressive array of analytical tools. These tools help us to make sense of the mountains of data that are out there waiting for us to delve into, and to understand the numbers we generate in the course of our own work.

# The Statistical (And Related) Notions You Just Have to Know

Because intensive calculation is often part and parcel of the statistician's toolset, many people have the misconception that statistics is about number crunching. Number crunching is just one small part of the path to sound decisions, however.

By shouldering the number-crunching load, software increases our speed of traveling down that path. Some software packages are specialized for statistical analysis and contain many of the tools that statisticians use. Although not marketed specifically as a statistical package, Excel provides a number of these tools, which is why I wrote this book.

I said that number crunching is a small part of the path ...

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