Due to the enormous amounts of data available, learning and using statistics can be herculean. In recent years, the volume of data generated has risen to astronomical levels. For instance, Google conducts 3,877,140 searches per minute and YouTube users watch 4,333,560 videos in the same time!
Already, over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day, and industry analysts expect it to grow in the coming years. As the world's data increases, so are the demand for experts in analyzing and understanding data — statisticians, data scientists, and data analysts.
Understanding data can improve your job prospects; hence, it is important to know the skills needed in data science. Additionally, a good grasp of statistical analysis can serve you beyond landing a job — it can help you live a better life.
Role of Inference and Probability in Day-To-Day Living
Statistics in data science, particularly applied statistics, is helpful in solving real-life data analysis problems. A major branch of applied statistics is probability — or the study of how probability uses Baye's theorem to formulate predictions. Learning probability is easy if you invest in a good statistics course. Nonetheless, you will still need a firm grasp of mathematical concepts in order to understand Bayesian probability.
The main purpose of statistics in data science is the discovery and exploitation of such patterns to give useful predictions. This is something that is obvious in Baye's theorem. There are many instances of predictions informed by statistical analysis being used in daily life. These include:
- Weather reporting
- Financial forecasts
- Pharmaceutical industry
You need not be a skilled statistician or researcher to understand the weather reports you get daily. The structure of such reports comprises hypothesis testing, statistical analysis software, and numerous datasets. Those who create such reports utilize statistical inference to detect patterns in weather data gathered previously, analyze the patterns, and make future predictions.
Many of us use statistical inference daily without knowing it. For example, when you attempt to choose what clothes to wear, you are likely using statistical inference just as statisticians do when creating reports. Also, you may attempt to predict today's weather based on yesterday's weather conditions. That, too, is another instance of utilizing the power of prediction afforded by statistics to make better decisions.
Analysts, worldwide, employ statistics and data analytics to understand financial markets. Similarly, investors use business analytics and accounting to make sense of financial data and utilize it in their daily operations.
Governments and big corporations also use statistics, especially its power of prediction, to make informed investment choices. Statistics and mathematical analytics are also used in understanding unemployment figures, census data, and government statistics.
Quantitative data analysis also finds use in the pharmaceutical industry. Before a pharmaceutical company produces a drug in mass quantities, it conducts trials for the drug. During the trials, it employs statistical techniques including surveys, population sampling, and hypothesis formulation.
The application of statistical techniques in pharmaceuticals forms the basis of bio-statistics — a branch of statistics that analyzes data from trials to gauge the effects of a drug. This later informs a company’s decision to introduce the medicine or further refine it before release.
If you want more knowledge on the need to study data science, note how much data you consume daily. Of course, this can include data from various sources — YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, Twitter, or even your lifestyle apps. Seeing how much data is created and consumed by the average individual will make you understand why you need to learn statistics for data analysis.
Gain Deep Understanding of the Economy
When you get information from newscasts or journals, you are inadvertently reading about statistics. This is because much of the information on those platforms is based on econometrics. For the uninitiated, econometrics is an amalgam of economics and statistics that analyzes economic data to model prospective policies of institutions including banks and government.
Economic data forms the crux of econometrics. Such data can include anything from agricultural and census numbers to a country’s budgetary figures. These growth markers comprise variables such as graduation rates, taxation information, dietary consumption, and income statements. Statisticians will measure and analyze these variables to forecast future economic conditions.
Understanding econometrics is important because it has a profound social impact. For example, in Nigeria, individuals apply econometrics to creating budgets that guide government spending.
Another instance of econometrics in action is when government institutions in Nigeria use data to formulate policy decisions. Examples of government decisions informed by econometrics include the closure of borders and the banning of importation of certain foods.
Knowing the role of economics and statistics in guiding government decisions can help you make sense of your financial situation in times of economic downturn. This is because government policies during such times can either lessen or worsen the hardship you and your household experience.
Statistics Can Help Improve Your Daily Life
Applications and devices designed to help manage areas of your life including finances, health, and so on, utilize statistics. Apps such as Runtastic or Wally make analyzing your personal data easy, enabling you to make efforts at improving your life.
How many times have you made a New Year's resolution to have a healthier lifestyle, only to slip back into old habits? You can stop this by using smartphone applications that help you stick to resolutions, particularly those related to healthy living. Say you intend to do yoga often; a yoga app can measure your personal data and show how much you have progressed. These apps, which are also available for other activities such as running and walking, can help you.
Even if your healthy lifestyle resolution involves something such as healthy eating, it will still benefit from using applications. We know for a fact that the number of applications catering to healthy eating habits has increased greatly over the years. Now, you have apps that suggest meal plans and recipes for healthier eating. Some of these apps can also track eating habits and assist your efforts at gaining, losing, or maintaining weight.
By using statistics to analyze personal data, lifestyle apps show how statistics help us make better decisions for our physical and mental health. Thus, we can afford to be the fittest, healthiest, and happiest versions of ourselves always.
Another instance of applications that use statistics to enhance lifestyle change is budgeting applications. Budgeting apps can help monitor expenses and identify spending patterns. Based on this, you can create budgets to guide spending throughout the year.
Budgeting apps can help you break bad spending habits by showing what you spend your money on. For example, you could be spending extravagantly on food without realizing it. Your budgeting app will show you this, and inform your decision on creating good spending habits.
Learning Statistics Can Be Fun
Asides improving your life, statistics can help you gain a better understanding of the world. Already, government, politicians, businesses, and other decision-makers in society use statistics in formulating decisions. You, too, can utilise statistics in making more decisions that are informed.
Often, when people hear the word 'statistics', they cringe because they think numbers — and math — is boring. But statistics can make for some fun learning in certain cases.
For example, if you love learning interesting numerical facts, the study of statistics can be an enjoyable pastime for you. For instance, did you know it takes about 39,000 gallons of water to produce the average car?
Statistics can also help you investigate certain notions or preconceptions you might have of some people. You may see some Nigerian youths jobless and roaming the streets and think, 'surely, it has to be their fault that they are unemployed.'
However, once you analyze employment trends and prevailing economic conditions, you would understand why such individuals graduate and fail to land jobs. Thus, the knowledge of statistics gained from a data science course gives you insights into certain phenomena and increases your understanding.
From this, it is obvious that learning about statistics, and its impact on our lives, can help us question the things around us. And by asking questions, we can gain new knowledge and break away from dogmatic thinking.
Beware, though; data can be misleading on certain occasions, as it often passes through an ‘interpreter’. Such interpreters could range from a data scientist to a data visualizer to a report or memo. And they are always partial, either to themselves, the company that hires them, or the government. Hence, you must take statistics only at face value. Or you might make a decision based on some statistical prediction, only to be confronted by a very different situation!
If you have followed the article up until this point, you must understand the importance of statistics in data science by now. You should also have a firm grasp of the role statistics play in daily life and why it is important to have some knowledge of statistical analysis.
Fortunately, the internet has made learning easier. You can learn statistics and statistical analysis without sitting in a class — and gain the power that knowledge of statistics confers on you!