What is Statistics?
Statistics is a very practical discipline, concerned about real problems in the real world. Amongst others, it has applications in:
- biology (biostatistics or biometrics)
- computing or computer science (statistical computing is a highly sought-after skill)
- economics (econometrics)
- environmental sustainability
- finance (financial statistics)
- health industry (medical statistics)
- psychology (psychometrics)
- social sciences
In most disciplines, it is almost never possible to examine or study everything of interest (such as an item, person, business or animal). For example, suppose we are interested in the effect of a certain drug claimed to improve the circulation of blood. We cannot test the drug on everyone!
However, we can test the drug on a selection of people. This raises a number of questions, however:
What group of people do we choose? Who should be in the group?
What can information gathered from a small group of people tell us about the effect of the drug in the population in general?
Won't the measured effect depend on which people are in the group? Won't it change from one group to the next? So how can any useful information be found?
How many people should be in such a group to obtain useful information?
To answer these questions, we need statistics.
Statistics appears in almost all areas of science, technology, research, and wherever data is obtained for the purpose of finding information. Statistics has been described as the science of making conclusions in the presence of uncertainty.
Statistics can provide answers to all the questions listed above. Despite the affinity of statistics with real situations, it has a strong mathematical foundation.
There are many opportunities for employment in the area of statistics (though not all jobs titles use the words "statistics" or "statistician"). The following examples of job titles are likely to assume statistical training or knowledge:
- financial analyst
- health researcher
- medical statistician
- market researcher
- social sciences researcher
- survey analyst
- risk analyst
- pharmarceutical researcher
- data analyst
- mathematics teacher/lecturer
- operational analyst
- quantitative analyst
The Simulation and Statistical Research and Consulting Centre (SimStat) is located in the Department of Computing and Mathematics (Faculty of Sciences). SimStat has been involved in research and development activities involving large scale complex systems simulation and statistical consulting since 1993. The Centre has developed simulation models to assist managers and strategic planners across a wide range of industries such as:
meat processing (slaughter floor and boning room operations)
health (day care rehabilitation)
materials handling (freezer packing, grain harvesting, cotton processing)
finance (mortgage backed securities)
transport (international airport terminal operations, ring-road impacts, and more recently busway operations).
For further information about SimStat, its services, and how SimStat can help you, contact the SimStat coordinator or the Statistics coordinator. Academic staff within Mathematics and Statistics are active and productive in research in the following areas:
Preliminary Test and Shrinkage Estimations
Generalized Linear Models
Tolerance Region, and Econometrics
Generalized Linear Models