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Hand D.J. Statistics: A Very Short Introduction

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Hand D.J. Statistics: A Very Short Introduction
Oxford University Press, 2008. — 144 p. — (Very Short Introductions).
Statistical ideas and methods underlie just about every aspect of modern life. From randomized clinical trials in medical research, to statistical models of risk in banking and hedge fund industries, to the statistical tools used to probe vast astronomical databases, the field of statistics has become centrally important to how we understand our world. But the discipline underlying all these is not the dull statistics of the popular imagination. Long gone are the days of manual arithmetic manipulation. Nowadays statistics is a dynamic discipline, revolutionized by the computer, which uses advanced software tools to probe numerical data, seeking structures, patterns, and relationships. This Very Short Introduction sets the study of statistics in context, describing its history and giving examples of its impact, summarizes methods of gathering and evaluating data, and explains the role played by the science of chance, of probability, in statistical methods. The book also explores deep philosophical issues of induction-how we use statistics to discern the true nature of reality from the limited observations we necessarily must make.
The first chapter presents some basic definitions, along with illustrations to convey some of the power, importance, and, indeed, excitement of statistics. The second chapter introduces some of the most elementary of statistical ideas, ideas which the reader may well have already encountered, concerned with basic summaries of data. Chapter 3 cautions us that the validity of any conclusions we draw depends critically on the quality of the raw data, and also describes strategies for efficient collection of data. If data provide one of the legs on which statistics stands, the other is probability, and Chapter 4 introduces basic concepts of probability. Proceeding from the two legs of data and probability, in Chapter 5 statistics starts to walk, with a description of how one draws conclusions and makes inferences from data. Chapter 6 presents a lightning overview of some important statistical methods, showing how they form part of an interconnected network of ideas and methods for extracting understanding from data. Finally, Chapter 7 looks at just some of the ways the computer has impacted the discipline.
List of illustrations.
Surrounded by statistics.
Simple descriptions.
Collecting good data.
Estimation and inference.
Statistical models and methods.
Statistical computing.
Further reading.
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