Statistics is a branch of mathematics dealing with data collection, analysis and presentation. In applying statistics to, for example, a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with a statistical population or a statistical model process to be studied. Populations can be diverse topics such as "all people living in a country" or "every atom composing a crystal". Statistics deals with every aspect of data, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments. See glossary of probability and statistics; when census data cannot be collected, statisticians collect data by developing specific experiment designs and survey samples. Representative sampling assures that inferences and conclusions can reasonably extend from the sample to the population as a whole. An experimental study involves taking measurements of the system under study, manipulating the system, taking additional measurements using the same procedure to determine if the manipulation has modified the values of the measurements.
In contrast, an observational study does not involve experimental manipulation. Two main statistical methods are used in data analysis: descriptive statistics, which summarize data from a sample using indexes such as the mean or standard deviation, inferential statistics, which draw conclusions from data that are subject to random variation. Descriptive statistics are most concerned with two sets of properties of a distribution: central tendency seeks to characterize the distribution's central or typical value, while dispersion characterizes the extent to which members of the distribution depart from its center and each other. Inferences on mathematical statistics are made under the framework of probability theory, which deals with the analysis of random phenomena. A standard statistical procedure involves the test of the relationship between two statistical data sets, or a data set and synthetic data drawn from an idealized model. A hypothesis is proposed for the statistical relationship between the two data sets, this is compared as an alternative to an idealized null hypothesis of no relationship between two data sets.
Rejecting or disproving the null hypothesis is done using statistical tests that quantify the sense in which the null can be proven false, given the data that are used in the test. Working from a null hypothesis, two basic forms of error are recognized: Type I errors and Type II errors. Multiple problems have come to be associated with this framework: ranging from obtaining a sufficient sample size to specifying an adequate null hypothesis. Measurement processes that generate statistical data are subject to error. Many of these errors are classified as random or systematic, but other types of errors can be important; the presence of missing data or censoring may result in biased estimates and specific techniques have been developed to address these problems. Statistics can be said to have begun in ancient civilization, going back at least to the 5th century BC, but it was not until the 18th century that it started to draw more from calculus and probability theory. In more recent years statistics has relied more on statistical software to produce tests such as descriptive analysis.
Some definitions are: Merriam-Webster dictionary defines statistics as "a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis and presentation of masses of numerical data." Statistician Arthur Lyon Bowley defines statistics as "Numerical statements of facts in any department of inquiry placed in relation to each other."Statistics is a mathematical body of science that pertains to the collection, interpretation or explanation, presentation of data, or as a branch of mathematics. Some consider statistics to be a distinct mathematical science rather than a branch of mathematics. While many scientific investigations make use of data, statistics is concerned with the use of data in the context of uncertainty and decision making in the face of uncertainty. Mathematical statistics is the application of mathematics to statistics. Mathematical techniques used for this include mathematical analysis, linear algebra, stochastic analysis, differential equations, measure-theoretic probability theory.
In applying statistics to a problem, it is common practice to start with a population or process to be studied. Populations can be diverse topics such as "all people living in a country" or "every atom composing a crystal". Ideally, statisticians compile data about the entire population; this may be organized by governmental statistical institutes. Descriptive statistics can be used to summarize the population data. Numerical descriptors include mean and standard deviation for continuous data types, while frequency and percentage are more useful in terms of describing categorical data; when a census is not feasible, a chosen subset of the population called. Once a sample, representative of the population is determined, data is collected for the sample members in an observational or experimental setting. Again, descriptive statistics can be used to summarize the sample data. However, the drawing of the sample has been subject to an element of randomness, hence the established numerical descriptors from the sample are due to uncertainty.
To still draw meaningful conclusions about the entire population, in