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Why Statistics?

In almost every endeavor of human activity, the scientific method has proven effective for solving problems and improving performance. This approach involves the collection of information or data pertinent to the particular problem or concern. Statisticians play several important roles in these scientific studies.

First, they plan the studies to ensure that the data are collected efficiently and answer the questions relevant to the investigation.

Second, they analyze the data to discover what conclusions can be reached from the study and what issues need further investigation.

In industry, statisticians design and analyze experiments to improve the safety, reliability and performance of products of all types, ranging from ballpoint pens to home appliances to automobiles. Other industrial settings include the food industry where statistics is used to design tastier, more attractive and more nutritious products. Statisticians are also directly involved with quality control issues in manufacturing to ensure consistent product dependability.

Statisticians work with social scientists to survey attitudes and opinions. They explore differences in viewpoints and in opportunities for persons with varying cultural, racial and economic backgrounds. In education, statisticians are involved with the assessment of educational aptitude and achievement and with experiments designed to measure the effectiveness of curricular innovations. Statisticians are an important part of research teams which search for better varieties of agricultural crops, for safer and more effective use of fertilizers and pesticides and for improvements in land management. They also work with conservationists to ensure the safety and propagation of wildlife.

In major hospitals, medical schools and government agencies, statisticians study the control, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries and other health abnormalities. They also investigate the efficiency of health delivery systems and practices. In the pharmaceutical industry, statisticians design experiments to measure the efficacy of drugs in treating illnesses and to assess the likelihood of undesirable side effects.

Statistical methods are also commonly used in business practice, e.g. to forecast demand for goods and services or to determine the most efficient method of operation. Actuaries use statistical methods to assess risk levels and set premium rates for the insurance and pension industries.

Within state and national government agencies, statisticians play a vital role in assessing employment levels and needs of the population for health and social services. Without accurate information from agencies like the Census Bureau, National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Defense, National Center for Education Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency, the government could not effectively allocate its resources.

Research in statistical methods is carried out within major universities, like the University of Florida, and within government agencies and private industry. Statisticians employed in these activities develop new ways to collect and analyze data for the many types of data and experimental settings encountered in practical studies. Other statisticians establish theoretical results designed to assist the development of statistical methods or to assess their effectiveness.

As you can see, statisticians and statistical methods play an important role in scientific studies to seek knowledge and to improve our lives. For a mathematically talented person, the study of statistics offers a wide variety of professional opportunities which have an impact on the solution of important problems.