The Power of Statistics

Albert Ming
4 min readJan 18, 2021

Statistics is a branch of mathematics that is often overlooked. When the word “statistics” comes in mind, the average person may think of an MLB player’s batting average, or an NBA player’s field goal percentage. However, the reality is that statistics offers so much more than a simple percentage of shots that a player made throughout a season. It has the power that few other branches of mathematics contain: the power of generating definitive conclusions.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

The aspect of statistics that allows us to make estimates and decisions is called inferential statistics. The two main statistical methods used in inferential statistics are confidence intervals and hypothesis tests. Given data about a particular population of interest, we can use these methods to generate conclusions!

Confidence Intervals

Let’s say that a large, public university wants to estimate the average SAT score of all of its admitted students. It’s a relatively large school, so the administrators do not have the time to ask each student their score. They begin by randomly selecting 100 students, and then they calculate the sample mean. This sample mean is what will be used to approximate the mean SAT score for the entire university. Obviously, the sample mean is only one value, so the chance that its value is equivalent to the population mean is extremely small. In addition, if…