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Statistics is a mathematical science pertaining to the collection, analysis, interpretation or explanation, and presentation of data. It is applicable to a wide variety of academic disciplines, from the natural and social sciences to the humanities, government and business.

Statistical methods are used to summarize and describe a collection of data; this is called descriptive statistics. In addition, patterns in the data may be modeled in a way that accounts for randomness and uncertainty in the observations, and then used to draw inferences about the process or population being studied; this is called inferential statistics.

Statistics arose no later than the 18th century from the need of states to collect data on their people and economies, in order to administer them. The meaning broadened in the early 19th century to include the collection and analysis of data in general.

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A histogram of heights of cherry trees
Students are expected to interpret graphs, such as this histogram

Advanced Placement Statistics ("AP Statistics") is a college-level high school statistics course offered in the United States through the College Board's Advanced Placement program. This course is equivalent to a one semester, non-calculus-based introductory college statistics course and is normally offered to juniors and seniors in high school. One of the College Board's more recent additions, the AP Statistics exam was first administered in May of 1996 to supplement the AP program's math offerings, which had previously consisted of only AP Calculus AB and BC. Students may receive college credit or upper-level college course placement upon the successful completion of a three-hour exam ordinarily administered in May. The exam consists of a multiple choice section and a free response section that are both 90 minutes long. Each section is weighted equally in determining the students' composite scores.


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Florence Nightingale 1920 reproduction.jpg
Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale, (1820 – 1910) was a pioneering nurse, writer and noted statistician. She became a pioneer in the visual presentation of information using statistical graphics such as pie charts and polar area diagrams. In her later life she made a comprehensive statistical study of sanitation in Indian rural life. In 1859 Nightingale was elected the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society and she later became an honorary member of the American Statistical Association.


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A polar area diagram
Credit: Florence Nightingale

A polar area diagram by Florence Nightingale. The polar area diagram is similar to a pie chart, except that the sectors are each of an equal angle and differ rather in how far each sector extends from the centre of the circle, enabling multiple comparisons on one diagram. This "DIAGRAM of the CAUSES of MORTALITY in the ARMY in the EAST" was published in Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army and sent to Queen Victoria in 1858. It shows the number of deaths due to preventable diseases (blue), wounds (red), and other causes (black).


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