Brian's Statistics Lab - Probability and Statistics...

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Probability and Statistics Laboratory Brian Mugo Biology 202, 11:00 a.m. Lecture 21 February 2007
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Introduction: Statistics, nowadays, is a commonly used field of study. The use of statistics by companies to forecast sales and profits and to decide on new products based on the success of old ones are only a few among the vast uses of statistics. Statistics comes from the root word statisticus in New Latin meaning “of state affairs” (grolier.com), meaning that the use of statistics in earlier times pertained to governmental issues such as the collection of demographic data. Statistics can be formally thought of as “the study of how to collect, organize, analyze, and interpret numerical information from data” (Brase, 5). Statistical models help us to make decisions without bias. Statistics requires, as a prerequisite for inference, data to be gathered. Data are usually gathered in samples, which are small parts of a specific population. A population can be defined as “all measurements or observations of interest” (Brase, 5). Once data has been gathered, the important purpose of statistics – “to make inferences (predictions, decisions) about a population based upon information contained in a sample” (Mendenhall, 3) – comes into play. Though statistics has been around for ages perhaps even dating past the Roman empire, the major contributions to the modern field of statistics came only recently – in about the 19 th and early 20 th century. Among the most important pioneers of these contributions is Sir Ronald A. Fisher. Fisher was an English mathematician and biologist born in England in 1890. Fisher graduated from Caius College in Cambridge in 1912 with a degree in mathematics and theoretical physics. After his graduation, Fisher “spent an additional year in Cambridge studying statistical mechanics and the theory of errors, subjects in which he was particularly interested” (Biography Resource Center). Around 6 years later, Fisher started to make some significant breakthroughs that would change the world of statistical thinking. Some of these breakthroughs still used today are the use of a small random sample to make an inference about the population. This successful method yields “a completely objective yet valid analysis.” Fisher later applied this and similar methods of small samplings to modify statistical
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functions. Fisher was also able to develop new methods to use statistics such as “the analysis of variance, co-variance, and multivariate analysis” and in 1925, “Fisher released Statistical Methods for Research Workers, a book that revolutionized research methods in many fields, particularly genetics and agriculture.” Sir Ronald A. Fisher died in Adelaide, Australia in 1962, but his contributions to the field of statistics “symbolized a new era in the field of statistical analysis” (Biological Resource Center). Methods and Materials:
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Brian's Statistics Lab - Probability and Statistics...

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