Statistics is a branch of mathematics that is used to summarize data and compare differences seen between samples and groups. Statistical tests can be used to check if patterns you might observe are real, or simply due to random variation naturally seen in the world.

In the research process we can collect data from a group representing what we want to study, but we might not be able to measure everyone in the entire population. Summary statistics such as the mean, median, standard deviation, and variance can provide insight in the center, and spread of the data collected for the sample. These summarizing characteristics can be used to make predictions of patterns, compare differences between groups or extrapolate information about the larger population.

In the media, average values (like mean and median) are often described as statistics, however the field of statistics goes far beyond these simple numbers. Check out the other tabs in this section for more information.