An Introduction to Statistics


After completing the chapter, you should be able to

  1. Define statistics.
  2. Identify the two major branches of statistics, describe their function, and discuss the role of probability as the link between the two.
  3. Distinguish between a deterministic and probabilistic world view.
  4. Differentiate qualitative from quantitative data, times series data from cross-sectional data, and define the four levels of measurement.
  5. Discuss the various sources of data.
  6. Summarize the main points in ASA's Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice.



Data, Data Everywhere

The past decade has been marked by an incredible growth in the collection and analysis of data. Today more and more companies are assembling large databases in an effort to learn more about their customers, their competitors, and the environment they live in. In the frenzy to mine this data bonanza, statisticians suddenly find themselves front and center. “It's like an arms race to hire statisticians nowadays,” Andreas Weigend, the former chief scientist at Amazon, told the New York Times. “Mathematicians are suddenly sexy.” (Well, that last part might be a bit of a stretch.)


How much information is out there? To answer that question, we first need a suitable ...

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