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Chapter: 11th Statistics : Scope of Statistics and Types of Data

Origin and Growth of Statistics

The origin of statistics can be traced back to the primitive man, who put notches on trees to keep an account of his belongings.

Origin and Growth of Statistics

The origin of statistics can be traced back to the primitive man, who put notches on trees to keep an account of his belongings. During 5000 BCE, kings used to carry out census of populations and resources of the state. Kings of olden days made their crucial decisions on wars, based on statistics of infantry, and elephantary units of their own and that of their enemies. Later it enhanced its scope in their kingdoms’ tax management and administrative domains. Thus, the word ‘Statistics’ has its root either to Latin word ‘Status’ or Italian word ‘Statista’ or German word ‘Statistik’ each of which means a ‘political state’. The word ‘Statistics’ was primarily associated with the presentation of facts and  figures  pertaining  to  demographic,  social  and political situations prevailing in a state/government. Its evolution over time formed the basis for most of the science and art disciplines. Statistics is used in the developmental phases of both theoretical and applied areas, encompassing the field of Industry, Agriculture, Medicine, Sports and Business analytics.

In olden days statistics was used for political- war purpose. Later, it was extended to taxation purposes. This is evident from Kautilya’s Arthasastra (324 – 300 BCE). Akbar`s finance minister Raja Thodarmall collected information regarding agricultural land holdings. During the seventeenth century, statistics entered in vital statistics, which is the basis for the modern day Actuarial Science. Gauss introduced the theory of errors in physical sciences at the end of eighteenth century.

Statistics is concerned with scientific method for collecting, organizing, summarizing, presenting, analyzing and interpreting of data. The word statistics is normally referred either as numerical facts or methods.

Statistics is used in two different forms-singular and plural. In plural form it refers to the numerical figures obtained by measurement or counting in a systematic manner with a definite purpose such as number of accidents in a busy road of a city in a day, number of people died due to a chronic disease during a month in a state and so on. In its singular form, it refers to statistical theories and methods of collecting, presenting, analyzing and interpreting numerical figures.

Though the importance of statistics was strongly felt, its tremendous growth was in the twentieth century. During this period, lot of new theories, applications in various disciplines were introduced. With the contribution of renowned statisticians several theories and methods were introduced, naming a few are Probability Theory, Sampling Theory, Statistical Inference, Design of Experiments, Correlation and Regression Methods, Time Series and Forecasting Techniques.


In early 1900s, statistics and statisticians were not given much importance but over the years due to advancement of technology it had its wider scope and gained attention in all fields of science and management. We also tend to think statistician as a small profession but a steady growth in the last century is impressive. It is pertinent to note that the continued growth of statistics is closely associated with information technology. As a result several new inter- disciplines have emerged. They are Data Mining, Data Warehousing, Geographic Information System, Artificial Intelligence etc. Now-a-days, statistics can be applied in hardcore technological spheres such as Bioinformatics, Signal processing, Telecommunications, Engineering, Medicine, Crimes, Ecology, etc.

Today’s business managers need to learn how analytics can help them make better decisions that can generate better business outcomes. They need to have an understanding of the statistical concepts that can help analyze and simplify the flood of data around them. They should be able to leverage analytical techniques like decision trees, regression analysis, clustering and association to improve business processes.

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11th Statistics : Scope of Statistics and Types of Data : Origin and Growth of Statistics |

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