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The word 'Statistics' refers to some numerical facts relating to any phenomena in social sciences or exact sciences. Facts and figures pertaining to population, production, national income, profits, sales, bank rates, family patterns, dowry system, animal kingdom, plant life, bacteria; will all constitute statistics.

The word 'statistics' seems to have derived from either the Latin word 'status' or the Italian word 'Statitsta' both meaning 'a political state'.

The word 'statistics' is presently referred to in two distinct senses. In its first reference as a plural noun, it means an aggregate or collection of numerical or quantitative expressions of facts i.e. 'numerical data' or simply 'data'. In its second reference as a singular noun, it means a body of principles and methods used in the collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation of numerical data.

Bowley defines statistics as the science of counting in one context. The emphasis made here is only on the collection of data. At another place he says: statistics may rightly be called the science of averages.Boddington defines statistics as the science of estimates and probabilities. According to Lovitt, the science of statistics deals with the collection. Classification and tabulation of numerical facts as the basis for explanation, description and comparison of phenomena. Seligman defines statistics as the science which deals with the methods of collecting classifying, presenting, comparing and interpreting numerical data collected to throw some light on any sphere of enquiry. Croxton and Cowden define statistics as the collection, presentation analysis and interpretation of numerical data.

Characteristics of Statistics

1. Statistics should be numerically expressed. For example the statement Rajan is of height 6' 1" makes the fact clear and easily understandable.
2. Statistics are aggregates of facts. Statistics means the facts pertaining to a group of individuals or individual item.
3. Statistics are affected to a market extent by a multiplicity of causes. There are a variety of forces or factors operating on the facts and figures in an aggregate. The influence of any particular factor cannot be isolated.
4. Statistics must be collected in a systematic manner for a predetermined purpose. Determination of the main purpose or objectives of any scientific study is the first and the most important step which in turn paves way for other operations to follow.
5. Statistics are enumerated or estimated according to reasonable standards of accuracy.
6. Statistics should be placed in relation to each other.