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Statistics is a branch of science that like many of its peers is still in a state of development and is dynamic in nature. The past centuries have witnessed slow and steady development of statistics. At various points of time, it has been defined or referred to with different connotations. Some of them might seem to be quite bizarre but they were nonetheless quite relevant in their respective times. Considering that, subjects are difficult to define per se, and they are by nature transient. Nevertheless, it is necessary to properly describe what a subject or topic is and the topic of statistics is by no means any different.

  • In its earliest manifestation, statistics was seen to be the science that dealt with kings and examined the science and art of politics and statecraft. The chief interest of rulers and kings of earlier times was their manpower. Exercises in census were made in order to arrive at estimates of population so that they may assess their capacity for warfare.
  • Another conception widely prevalent during its heyday was to consider statistics that referred to the science of counting. This is the popular perception that remains valid even today for the layman. From its humble beginnings, statistics today consists of rich methods of data interpretation and analysis of data.
  • It has also been said to be the science that related to averages. Though averages play an important role in the world of statistics, it is hardly an all encompassing one.
  • It also has been understood to be the science that deals with probabilities and estimates. Though this description accurately refers to the functions of modern statistics, it remains incomplete as it lays stress solely on probability as there are areas in statistics which are devoid of probabilities.
  • W.I. King defines statistics as the science that encompassed the methods related to judging collection of natural and social phenomenon from analysis or collection of estimates or enumeration results. This too is found necessary in covering the whole area of modern statistics.
  • However, as things stand as of today, academics by and large agree that statistics is the numerical representation of facts which is capable of analyzing the same. It examines principles and methods that are put into practice in the collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation of numerical data irrespective of discipline.

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