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Statistics is a mathematical science pertaining to the collection, analysis, interpretation or explanation, and presentation of data. It is applicable to a wide variety of academic disciplines, from the natural and social sciences to the humanities, government and business.

Statistical methods are used to summarize and describe a collection of data; this is called descriptive statistics. In addition, patterns in the data may be modeled in a way that accounts for randomness and uncertainty in the observations, and then used to draw inferences about the process or population being studied; this is called inferential statistics.

Statistics arose no later than the 18th century from the need of states to collect data on their people and economies, in order to administer them. The meaning broadened in the early 19th century to include the collection and analysis of data in general. Template:/box-footer

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A likelihood function

Maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) is a popular statistical method used for fitting a mathematical model to data. The modeling of real world data using estimation by maximum likelihood offers a way of tuning the free parameters of the model to provide a good fit. The method was pioneered by Sir Ronald A. Fisher between 1912 and 1922. For a fixed set of data and underlying probability model, maximum likelihood picks the values of the model parameters that make the data "more likely" than any other values of the parameters would make them. Maximum likelihood estimation gives a unique and easy way to determine solution in the case of the normal distribution and many other problems.


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Florence Nightingale 1920 reproduction.jpg
Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale, (1820 – 1910) was a pioneering nurse, writer and noted statistician. She became a pioneer in the visual presentation of information using statistical graphics such as pie charts and polar area diagrams. In her later life she made a comprehensive statistical study of sanitation in Indian rural life. In 1859 Nightingale was elected the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society and she later became an honorary member of the American Statistical Association.


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The Statistics WikiProject is the center for improving statistics articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks.

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A polar area diagram
Credit: Florence Nightingale

A polar area diagram by Florence Nightingale. The polar area diagram is similar to a pie chart, except that the sectors are each of an equal angle and differ rather in how far each sector extends from the centre of the circle, enabling multiple comparisons on one diagram. This "DIAGRAM of the CAUSES of MORTALITY in the ARMY in the EAST" was published in Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army and sent to Queen Victoria in 1858. It shows the number of deaths due to preventable diseases (blue), wounds (red), and other causes (black).



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