Statistics (History, Development, Singular and Plural Definition of Statistics)

Origin and Development of Statistics:

The history of statistics dates back to ancient times when the kings and Emperors used to collect data about the number of households, military information, resources, income, etc. Such information was needed to draft economic policies and war policies. So, statistics was also known as the science of kings. However, the systematic form of statistics was originated in the 19th century. The word ‘Statistics’ was originated from the Latin word ‘Status’, the Italian word ‘Statista’, and German word ‘Statistik’, where all these terms mean ‘political state’ or ‘the statesman’s art’ or ‘the art of statecrafts.’ 

The scope of statistics has widened in modern times due to the contributions made by great statisticians and mathematicians like Karl Pearson, Prof. Ronald Aylmer Fisher, Jacob Bernoulli, David Roxbee Cox, Laplace, etc. In modern days, statistics is being used widely in various fields like economics, business, science, banking, planning, agriculture, etc. The term statistics has been defined in two different sensors. They are Singular sense and Plural sense.

Definition of statistics in the singular sense:

Singular sense definition of statistics refers statistics to the methods that are used to handle the data. Arthur Lyon Bowley states that statistics is the science of counting. According to him, “Statistics may be called the science of average.” His definition is very narrow as it covers only the field of counting and average.

According to Prof. Boddington, “Statistics is the science of estimates and probabilities.” His definition covers the field of probability and estimations which is also an incomplete study of statistics. There are many other techniques used in statistics.

According to Croxton and Cowden, “Statistics is the collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation of numerical data.” This definition is comprehensive and more scientific than other definitions of statistics as it incorporates the following important features of statistics:

a) Collection of data:

The first feature of the singular sense definition of statistics also behaves as the first step in statistics. The primary step of any statistical inquiry is the collection of data. The research, investigation, and conclusions are based on the collected data. So, they should be collected in a systematic manner for the results to be reliable.

b) Presentation of data:
After the data are collected, then they must be presented in a systematic form. They are arranged into rows and columns for presenting them in a tabular form. The data can also be presented in diagrams and graphs according to their nature and homogeneity. This helps to condense the data and help in analyzing.

c) Analysis of data:

When the data are arranged and presented in a concise form, then they are analyzed. Analysis of data includes the usage of various tools like average, measures of dispersion, correlation and regression analysis, factor analysis, hypothesis testing, time series analysis, etc.

d) Interpretation of data:

The final stage of every statistical inquiry is the interpretation of data. The investigator draws logical inference from the analysis of data and gives a valid conclusion. This needs a high level of skills and experience.

Definition of statistics in Plural sense:

The plural sense definition of statistics refers to statistics to the numerical statements of facts. A.L Bowley states that statistics are numerical statements of facts in any department of inquiry, placed in relation to each other.

According to Ackenwall, “Statistics is the collection of noteworthy facts concerning the state, both historical and descriptive.” His definition has limited the scope of statistics to state but in modern days, statistics are collected with respect to every human activity.

Yule and Kendall define statistics as, “By statistics, we mean quantitative data affected to a marked extent by a multiplicity of causes.” This definition stresses on the fact that statistics are quantitative data that are affected by various factors.

According to Prof. Horace Secrist, “By statistics we mean the aggregate of facts affected to a marked extent by the multiplicity of causes, numerically expressed, enumerated or estimated according to reasonable standards of accuracy, collected in a systematic manner for a pre-determined purpose and placed in relation to each other.” This definition is more scientific as compared to others as it is characterized by the following features:

a) Statistics are the aggregate of facts:

A single figure or data is not statistics. In order to be statistics, the data must be in a group and not isolated. Only aggregate or group data can be analyzed and interpreted by statistics. For instance; The price of an apple is not statistics as it is a single figure. There should be prices of fruits to make an aggregate of facts.

b) Statistics are affected by multiple factors:

Statistics are usually affected by various factors at the same time together. It is very rare that a single factor affects statistics. For example; if we say the demand has fallen by 10%, then there might be several factors that have caused the demand to fall like; fall in income, rise in prices, availability of substitutes, changes in government policies, etc.

c) Statistics are numerically expressed:

Purely quantitative information is included in statistics. They should be expressed in numerical figures. The information like ‘Mr. A is the brilliant student of Hamro college’ is not statistics. But if it is said that ‘Mr. A has scored 3.5, 3.8, and 4 GPA in the last 3 respective years’, then it constitutes statistics.

d) Statistics are enumerated in a reasonable standard of accuracy:

Statistics are hypothetically estimated or accurately enumerated according to the type of information. However, a certain degree of accuracy is maintained in statistics. If we want to measure the distance between Kathmandu and Biratnagar, then it is not necessary to be accurate as it differs according to cases.

e) Statistics are collected for a predetermined purpose:

The objective of the inquiry should be clearly specified before collecting data. This helps to get appropriate and related data for the inquiry and avoid irrelevant information. It also saves time and effort.

f) Statistics are collected in a systematic manner:

Random collections of data lead to wrong conclusions. So, in order to avoid misleading conclusions, the data should be collected in a systematic manner using appropriate methods and techniques.

g) Statistics are placed in relation to each other:

Statistical data should be comparable. They must be related to each other for that purpose. Data that can’t be compared to each other does not constitute statistics. For example, the Height of students and their intelligence are not related to the comparison. But, the height of students and the amount of food can be related.

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