What is Statistics?

CRC Press Authors Explain

We've asked a variety of statistics textbooks authors how they would answer the question "What is Statistics?" See their thought-provoking answers below!

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“I would say that statistics provides us with a rigorous toolbox to frame discussions about uncertainties that arise from using sample information. Its tools are aimed at giving us a handle on the accuracy of inferences drawn from our data. Having said that, opinions on how to do this vary. The main discussions are between ‘frequentists’ and ‘Bayesians’. This multitude of views makes statistics an exciting subject with both very applied and highly philosophical sides to it.”
—Jacco Thijssen, author of A Concise Introduction to Statistical Inference

“Statistics is a broad discipline united by the common goal of extracting knowledge from or making decisions based on data. The discipline includes theoretical statistics and probability, which provides the mathematical underpinnings for much of what we do, statistical methodology, the abstraction of data analysis procedures that permits us to generalize some of our workflows, applied statistics and data analysis, the complex interactive process of wrangling, exploring, visualizing and applying methods to data, and computing, the development of the indispensable digital tools and associated abstractions needed to do our work efficiently.”
Rafael Irizarry (@rafalab), author of Data Analysis for the Life Sciences with R

Linking Open Data cloud diagram “Statistics is the art of learning about phenomena through the collection and analysis of data.  What separates statistics from other areas of data science is the [emphasis] on probabilistic modeling as well as the understanding and incorporation of different dynamics involved in the data collection process.  The wonderful part about statistics is its breadth, meaning that one can contribute to the discipline in dramatically different ways, whether it be developing some new methodology, exploring new computational tools, or applying novel methods to cutting edge scientific problems.”
Matthew Reimherr, author of Introduction to Functional Data Analysis

“Statistics is the science of modeling the randomness present in real-world observations.”
Ben Baumer, author of Modern Data Science with R

“For me, statistics is the science of learning from data and making decisions using the wealth of information available to us. I teach at a small liberal arts college with the goal of developing our students' ability to go out into the world and solve complex problems. What could be more of a liberal art than being able to make sense of the world around us?”
Nicholas Horton, author of Modern Data Science with R

“Applied statistics is the craft of organizing, examining, analyzing, drawing conclusions from, and presenting quantitative data. As a craft, statistics combines elements of art and skill, which are in part the product of experience, with elements of science. The science derives from mathematical statistics, which fundamentally concerns uncertain inferences based on data that are subject to randomness.”
John Fox, author of Using the R Commander

“Statistics is about the development of methods for the collection and analysis of data in order to answer specific questions in an unbiased way, so that the conclusions depend only on the data and not on any preconceived ideas.”
Bryan Manly, author of Multivariate Statistical Methods, Fourth Edition

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