Scope and Applications
In ancient times the scope of statistics was limited. When people hear the word ‘Statistics’ they think immediately of either sports related numbers or a subject they have studied at college and passed with minimum marks. While statistics can be thought in these terms there is a wide scope for statistics. Today, there is no human activity which does not use statistics. There are two major divisions of statistical methods called descriptive statistics and inferential statistics and each of the divisions are important and satisfies different objectives. The descriptive statistics is used to consolidate a large amount of information. For example, measures of central tendency, like mean are descriptive statistics. Descriptive statistics just describes the data in a condensed form for solving some limited problems. They do not involve beyond the data at hand.
Inferential statistics, on the other hand, are used when we want to draw meaningful conclusions based on sample data drawn from a large population. For example, one might want to test whether a recently developed drug is more efficient than the conventional drug. Hence, it is impossible to test the efficiency of the drug by administering to each patient affected by a particular disease, but we will test it only through a sample. A quality control engineer may be interested in the quality of the products manufactured by a company. He uses a powerful technique called acceptance sampling to protect the producer and consumer interests. An agricultural scientist wanted to test the efficacy of fertilizers should test by designed experiments. He may be interested in farm size, use of land and crop harvested etc. One advantage of working in statistics is that one can combine his interest with almost any field of science, technology or social sciences such as Economics Commerce, Engineering Medicine, and Criminology and so on.
The profession of statistician is exciting, challenging and rewarding. Statistician is the most prevalent title but professionals like Risk analyst, Data analyst, Business analyst have been engaged in work related to statistics. In view of the overwhelming demand for Statistics many universities in India and elsewhere have been offering courses in statistics at graduate and Master’s level. We have mentioned earlier that statistics has applications to almost all fields. Here in this section we highlight its applications to select branches.
Actuarial science is the discipline that extensively applies statistical methods among other subjects involved in insurance and financial institutions. The professionals who qualify in actuarial science course are called actuaries. Actuaries, in the earlier days used deterministic models to assess the premiums in insurance sector. Nowadays, with modern computers and sophisticated statistical methods, science has developed vastly. In India, from 2006 a statutory body has been looking after the profession of actuaries.
Statistical methods are widely used in business and trade solutions such as financial analysis, market research and manpower planning. Every business establishment irrespective of the type has to adopt statistical techniques for its growth. They estimate the trend of prices, buying and selling, importing and exporting of goods using statistical methods and past data. Ya-Lun-Chou says “It is not an exaggeration to say that today nearly every decision in business is made with the aid of statistical data and statistical methods.”
Statistical methods are very much useful to understand economic concepts, such as mandatory policy and public finance. In the modern world, economics is taught as an exact service which makes extensive use of statistics. Some of the important statistical techniques used in economic analysis are: Times series, Index Numbers, Estimation theory and Tests of significance, stochastic models. According to Engeberg “No Economist would attempt to arrive at a conclusion concerning the production or distribution of wealth without an exhaustive study of statistical data.” In our country many state governments have a division called Department of Economics and Statistics for the analysis of Economic data of the state.
In medical field, statistical methods are extensively used. If we look at the medical journals one can understand to what extent the statistical techniques play a key role. Medical statistics deals with the applications of statistical methods like tests of significance and confidence intervals to medicine and health science including epidemiology, public health. Modern statistical methods helps the medical practitioners to understand how long a patient affected by a dreaded disease will survive and what are the factors that influence a patient to be alive or dead.
Experimentation and inference based on these experiments are the key features of general scientific methodology. Agricultural scientists conduct experiments and make inferences to decide whether the particular variety of crop gives a better yield than others or a particular type of fertilizer etc,. There are several institutes where research is being done by making use of statistical methods like analysis of variance (ANOVA), factorial experiments etc., falls under the hut of Design of experiments. There is a separate institute (IASRI), New Delhi, carrying out research in agricultural statistics.
Statistical methods play a vital role in any modern use of science and technology. Many statistical methods have been developed and applied in industries for various problems. For example, to maintain the quality of manufactured products the concept of statistical quality control is used. The quality in time domain study of mechanical, electrical or electronic items the concept of ‘Reliability’ has emerged. Total quality management and six-sigma theories make use of statistical concepts.
Information Technology is the applications of computers and telecommunication equipments to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data. Now-a-days, several industries are involved in information technology and massive amounts of data are stored every day. These data are to be analyzed meaningfully so that the information contained in the data is used by the respective users. To address this issue, fields such as data mining, Machine learning have emerged. Data mining an interdisciplinary sub field of computer science is the computational process of discovering patterns in large data sets involving methods such as artificial intelligence and statistics. Persons trained in statistics with computing knowledge have been working as data analytics to analyze such huge data.
Statistics provides statistical information to government to evolve policies, to maintain law and order, to promote welfare schemes and to other schemes of the government. In other words, statistical information is vital in overall governance of the state. For instance statistics provide information to the government on population, agricultural production, industrial production, wealth, imports, exports, crimes, birth rates, unemployment, education, minerals and so on.