Home > Articles > Business & Management

Fundamentals of Statistics

  • Print
  • + Share This
You can make better sense of the numbers you encounter if you learn to understand statistics. In this chapter, you begin by learning five basic words--population, sample, variable, parameter, and statistic (singular)--that identify the fundamental concepts of statistics.
This chapter is from the book
  • 1.1 The First Three Words of Statistics
  • 1.2 The Fourth and Fifth Words
  • 1.3 The Branches of Statistics
  • 1.4 Sources of Data
  • 1.5 Sampling Concepts
  • 1.6 Sample Selection Methods One-Minute Summary Test Yourself

Every day, the media uses numbers to describe or analyze our world:

  • “6 New Facts About Facebook” (A. Smith,www.pewresearch.org/author/asmith, 3 February 2014). A survey reported that women were more likely than men to cite seeing photos or videos, sharing with many people at once, seeing entertaining or funny posts, learning about ways to help others, and receiving support from people in their network as reasons to use Facebook.
  • “First Two Years of College Wasted?” (M. Marklein, USA Toda, 18 January 2011, p. 3A). A survey of more than 3,000 full-time, traditional-age students found that the students spent 51% of their time on socializing, recreation, and other activities; 9% of their time attending class and labs; and 7% of their time studying.
  • “Follow the Tweets” (H. Rui, A. Whinston, and E. Winkler, The Wall Street Journal, 30 November 2009, p. R4). In this study, the authors found that the number of times a specific product was mentioned in comments in the Twitter social messaging service could be used to make accurate predictions of sales trends for that product.

You can make better sense of the numbers you encounter if you learn to understand statistics. Statistics, a branch of mathematics, uses procedures that allow you to correctly analyze the numbers. These procedures, or statistical methods, transform numbers into useful information that you can use when making decisions about the numbers. Statistical methods can also tell you the known risks associated with making a decision as well as help you make more consistent judgments about the numbers.

Learning statistics requires you to reflect on the significance and the importance of the results to the decision-making process you face. This statistical interpretation means knowing when to ignore results because they are misleading, are produced by incorrect methods, or just restate the obvious, as in “100% of the authors of this book are named ‘David.’”

In this chapter, you begin by learning five basic words—population, sample, variable, parameter, and statistic (singular)—that identify the fundamental concepts of statistics. These five words, and the other concepts introduced in this chapter, help you explore and explain the statistical methods discussed in later chapters.

1.1 The First Three Words of Statistics

You’ve already learned that statistics is about analyzing things. Although numbers was the word used to represent things in the opening of this chapter, the first three words of statistics, population, sample, and variable, help you to better identify what you analyze with statistics.

Population

CONCEPT All the members of a group about which you want to reach a conclusion.

EXAMPLES All U.S. citizens who are currently registered to vote, all patients treated at a particular hospital last year, the entire set of individuals who accessed a website on a particular day.

Sample

CONCEPT The part of the population selected for analysis.

EXAMPLES The registered voters selected to participate in a recent survey concerning their intention to vote in the next election, the patients selected to fill out a patient satisfaction questionnaire, 100 boxes of cereal selected from a factory’s production line, 500 individuals who accessed a website on a particular day.

Variable

CONCEPT A characteristic of an item or an individual that will be analyzed using statistics.

EXAMPLES Gender, the party affiliation of a registered voter, the household income of the citizens who live in a specific geographical area, the publishing category (hardcover, trade paperback, mass-market paperback, textbook) of a book, the number of cell phones in a household.

INTERPRETATION All the variables taken together form the data of an analysis. Although people often say that they are analyzing their data, they are, more precisely, analyzing their variables.

You should distinguish between a variable, such as gender, and its value for an individual, such as male. An observation is all the values for an individual item in the sample. For example, a survey might contain two variables, gender and age. The first observation might be male, 40. The second observation might be female, 45. The third observation might be female, 55. By convention, when you organize data in tabular form, you place the values for a variable to be analyzed in a column. Therefore, some people refer to a variable as a column of data. Likewise, some people call an observation a row of data.

Categorical Variables

Numerical Variables

Concept

The values of these variables are selected from an established list of categories.

The values of these variables involve a counted or measured value.

Subtypes

None

Discrete values are counts of things.

Continuous values are measures and any value can theoretically occur, limited only by the precision of the measuring process.

Examples

Gender, a variable that has the categories “male” and “female.” variable.

Academic major, a variable that might have the categories “English,” “Math,” “Science,” and “History,” among others.

The number of people living in a household, a discrete numerical

The time it takes for someone to commute to work, a continuous variable.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020