A Short History of Statistics

The word statistics was first used by a German scholar Gottfried Achenwall in the middle of the 18th century as the science of statecraft concerning the collection and use of data by the state. Here we see the short history of Statistics.

The word statistics comes from the Latin word “Status” or Italian word “Statistia” or German word “Statistik” or the French word “Statistique”; meaning a political state, and originally meant information useful to the state, such as information about sizes of the population (human, animal, products, etc.) and armed forces.

According to pioneer statistician Yule, the word statistics occurred at the earliest in the book “the element of universal erudition” by Baron (1770). In 1787 a wider definition used by E.A.W. Zimmermann in “A Political survey of the present state of Europe”. It appeared in the encyclopedia of Britannica in 1797 and was used by Sir John Sinclair in Britain in a series of volumes published between 1791 and 1799 giving a statistical account of Scotland. In the 19th century, the word statistics acquired a wider meaning covering numerical data of almost any subject whatever and also interpretation of data through appropriate analysis. That’s all about the short history of Statistics. Now let us see how statistics is being used in different meanings nowadays.

Short History of Statistics

Now statistics is being used in different meanings.

  • Statistics refers to “numerical facts that are arranged systematically in the form of tables or charts etc. In this sense, it is always used a plural i.e. a set of numerical information. For instance statistics of prices, road accidents, crimes, births, educational institutions, etc.
  • The word statistics is defined as a discipline that includes procedures and techniques used to collect, process, and analyze the numerical data to make inferences and to reach appropriate decisions in situations of uncertainty (uncertainty refers to incompleteness, it does not imply ignorance). In this sense word statistic is used in the singular sense. It denotes the science of basing decisions on numerical data.
  • The word statistics are numerical quantities calculated from sample observations; a single quantity calculated from sample observations is called statistics such as the mean. Here word statistics is plural.

“We compute statistics from statistics by statistics”

The first place of statistics is plural of statistics, in second place is plural sense data and in third place in singular sense methods.

Muhammad Imdad Ullah

Currently working as Assistant Professor of Statistics in Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan. Completed my Ph.D. in Statistics from the Department of Statistics, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan. l like Applied Statistics, Mathematics, and Statistical Computing. Statistical and Mathematical software used is SAS, STATA, GRETL, EVIEWS, R, SPSS, VBA in MS-Excel. Like to use type-setting LaTeX for composing Articles, thesis, etc.

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