An Overview of Statistics
In this section, we will briefly discuss the goal of the overarching field of statistics and talk about some of its fundamental ideas. This conversation will set the context for the subsequent topics in this chapter and this book.
Generally speaking, statistics is all about working with data, be it processing, analyzing, or drawing a conclusion from the data we have. In the context of a given dataset, statistics has two main goals: describing the data, and drawing conclusions from it. These goals coincide with the two main categories of statistics — descriptive statistics and inferential statistics — respectively.
In descriptive statistics, questions are asked about the general characteristics of a dataset: What is the average amount? What is the difference between the maximum and the minimum? What value appears the most? And so forth. The answers to these questions help us get an idea of what the dataset in question constitutes and what...