The world is becoming quantitative. More and more professions, from the everyday to the exotic, depend on data and numerical reasoning.
Data are not just numbers, but numbers that carry information about a specific setting and need to be interpreted in that setting. With this growth in the use of data comes a growing demand for the services of statisticians, who are experts in
Here are a few of the many settings in which statisticians contribute to our well-being.
The search for improved medical treatments rests on careful experiments that compare promising new treatments with the current state of the art. Statisticians work with medical teams to design the experiments and to analyze the complex data they produce.
Studies of the environment require data on the abundance and location of plants and animals, on the spread of pollution form its sources, and on the possible effects of changes in human activities. The data are often incomplete or uncertain, but statisticians can help uncover their meaning.
The future of many industries and their employees depends on improvement in the quality of goods and services and in the efficiency with which they are produced and delivered. Improvement should be based on data rather than guesswork. Ever more companies are installing elaborate systems to collect and act on data in order to better serve their customers.
How many people are unemployed this month? What do we export to China, and what do we import? Are rates of violent crime increasing or decreasing? Government wants data on issues like these to guide policy, and government statistical agencies provide them by surveys of households and businesses.
Are consumer tastes in television programs changing? What are promising locations for a new retail outlet? Market researchers use both government data and their own surveys to answer questions like these. Statisticians design the elaborate surveys that gather data for both public and private use.