“Statistics”, that a word is often used, has been derived from the Latin word ‘Status’ that means a group of numbers or figures; those represent some information of our human interest.

We find statistics in everyday life, such as in books or other information papers or TV or newspapers.

Although, in the beginning it was used by Kings only for collecting information about states and other information which was needed about their people, their number, revenue of the state etc.

This was known as the science of the state because it was used only by the Kings. So it got its development as ‘Kings’ subject or ‘Science of Kings’ or we may call it as “Political Arithmetic’s”. It was for the first time, perhaps in Egypt to conduct census of population in 3050 B.C. because the king needed money to erect pyramids. But in India, it is thought, that, it started dating back to Chandra Gupta Maurya’s kingdom under Chankya to collect the data of births and deaths. TM has also been stated in Chankya’s Arthshastra.


But now-a-days due to its pervading nature, its scope has increased and widened. It is now used in almost in all the fields of human knowledge and skills like Business, Commerce, Economics, Social Sciences, Politics, Planning, Medicine and other sciences, Physical as well as Natural.


The term ‘Statistics’ has been defined in two senses, i.e. in Singular and in Plural sense.

“Statistics has two meanings, as in plural sense and in singular sense”.

—Oxford Dictionary


In plural sense, it means a systematic collection of numerical facts and in singular sense; it is the science of collecting, classifying and using statistics.

A. In the Plural Sense:

“Statistics are numerical statements of facts in any department of enquiry placed in relation to each other.” —A.L. Bowley

“The classified facts respecting the condition of the people in a state—especially those facts which can be stated in numbers or in tables of numbers or in any tabular or classified arrangement.” —Webster


These definitions given above give a narrow meaning to the statistics as they do not indicate its various aspects as are witnessed in its practical applications. From the this point of view the definition given by Prof. Horace Sacrist appears to be the most comprehensive and meaningful:

“By statistics we mean aggregates of facts affected to a marked extent by multiplicity of causes, numerically expressed, enumerated or estimated according to reasonable standard of accuracy, collected in a systematic manner for a predetermined purpose, and placed in relation to each other.”—Horace Sacrist

B. In the Singular Sense:

“Statistics refers to the body of technique or methodology, which has been developed for the collection, presentation and analysis of quantitative data and for the use of such data in decision making.” —Ncttor and Washerman

“Statistics may rightly be called the science of averages.” —Bowleg

“Statistics may be defined as the collection, presentation, analysis, and interpretation of numerical data.” —Croxton and Cowden

Stages of Investigations:

1. Collection of Data:

It is the first stage of investigation and is regarding collection of data. It is determined that which method of collection is needed in this problem and then data are collected.


2. Organisation of Data:

It is second stage. The data are simplified and made comparative and are classified according to time and place.

3. Presentation of Data:

In this third stage, organised data are made simple and attractive. These are presented in the form of tables diagrams and graphs.


4. Analysis of Data:

Forth stage of investigation is analysis. To get correct results, analysis is necessary. It is often undertaken using Measures of central tendencies, Measures of dispersion, correlation, regression and interpolation etc.

5. Interpretation of Data:

In this last stage, conclusions are enacted. Use of comparisons is made. On this basis, forecasting is made.


Distiction between the two types of definition

Some Modern Definitions:

From the above two senses of statistics, modem definitions have emerged as given below:

“Statistics is a body of methods for making wise decisions on the face of uncertainty.” —Wallis and Roberts

“Statistics is a body of methods for obtaining and analyzing numerical data in order to make better decisions in an uncertain world.” —Edward N. Dubois

So, from above definitions we find that science of statistics also includes the methods of collecting, organising, presenting, analysing and interpreting numerical facts and decisions are taken on their basis.


The most proper definition of statistics can be given as following after analysing the various definitions of statistics.

“Statistics in the plural sense are numerical statements of facts capable of some meaningful analysis and interpretation, and in singular sense, it relates to the collection, classification, presentation and interpretation of numerical data.”