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Descriptive statistics and Inferential statistics Difference

Data can be used in different ways. The body of knowledge called statistics is sometimes divided into two main areas, depending on how data are used. The two areas are

1.   Descriptive statistics

2.   Inferential statistics

Descriptive statistics consists of the collection, organization, summarization, and presentation of data.

In descriptive statistics the statistician tries to describe a situation. Consider the national census conducted by the U.S. government every 10 years. Results of this census give you the average age, income, and other characteristics of the U.S. population. To obtain this information, the Census Bureau must have some means to collect relevant data. Once data are collected, the bureau must organize and summarize them. Finally, the bureau needs a means of presenting the data in some meaningful form, such as charts, graphs, or tables. The second area of statistics is called inferential statistics.

Inferential statistics consists of generalizing from samples to populations, performing estimations and hypothesis tests, determining relationships among variables, and making predictions.

Here, the statistician tries to make inferences from samples to populations. Inferential statistics uses probability, i.e., the chance of an event occurring. You may be familiar with the concepts of probability through various forms of gambling. If you play cards, dice, bingo, or lotteries, you win or lose according to the laws of probability. Probability theory is also used in the insurance industry and other areas.

It is important to distinguish between a sample and a population.

A population consists of all subjects (human or otherwise) that are being studied.

Most of the time, due to the expense, time, size of population, medical concerns, etc., it is not possible to use the entire population for a statistical study; therefore, researchers use samples.

A sample is a group of subjects selected from a population.

If the subjects of a sample are properly selected, most of the time they should possess the same or similar characteristics as the subjects in the population

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