The Year of Statistics Is Here - Now Celebrate!

Regular readers and professional statisticians may well remember that with the year 2013 comes a global celebration of statistics. So if you're a number cruncher or data guru and you haven't given yourself a boo-ya! lately, you definitely deserve one.

Love may be known for making the world go 'round, but statistical science is what's keeping the improvements coming. If you have any doubt, watch this video on how statistics is improving human welfare:

And dig into this report Deloitte prepared for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, a UK government agency, on the economic benefits of mathematical science research (MSR) in the UK. For the study, Deloitte said it looked qualitatively at the ways in which MSR influenced economic performance in the UK and then quantified the economic value of MSR in terms of direct employment supported and GVA (gross value added) generated in 2010.

Qualitatively, no one here should be surprised to read that statistical science helps us "make sense of data and better understand the world; safeguard society; and forecast, address uncertainty, and optimize processes." But how could we have known that the field provided jobs for approximately 2.8 million employees (around 10 percent of all jobs in the UK) and contributed about $338 billion in terms of GVA (around 16 percent of total UK GVA), as Deloitte noted in the report? Makes me want to know the same sorts of measures for the US and elsewhere.

You can find each of these resources, as well as many others, at, a special site established to celebrate the International Year of Statistics. As I've written previously, five statistical societies, including the American Statistical Association (ASA), led the creation of the International Year of Statistics, a "worldwide celebration and recognition of the contributions of statistical science." The site is a great resource, not only for statisticians themselves but for those involved in educating those folks who will be responsible for handling the massive amount of data the world generates today and into the future.

That talent issue, once again, rears its head. In an earlier email interview, ASA board member Ron Wasserstein, who also joined for a December e-chat on Statistics2013, cited this as a primary impetus behind the initiative: "the realization that we are not training enough people to have the expertise needed in the world to take advantage of the opportunities of the Age of Big Data." During the e-chat he noted, "statistics is very misunderstood because it is a science that also has as its name one of its concepts. So statistics with a small 's' gets confused with statistics with a capital 'S'. But also it has often been taught poorly, which leaves a bad taste."

From my early perusal of, I'd say the folks behind this initiative are working quite hard at making statistics approachable -- fun, even. You can find:

  • A statistic of the day
  • Posters to download
  • Contests to enter
  • Links to statisticians in the news
  • Cartoons
  • Career insight

And the list goes on. Stop by and let us know what you think. Do you have reason to celebrate your role in working with data?

Beth Schultz, Editor in Chief

Beth Schultz has more than two decades of experience as an IT writer and editor.  Most recently, she brought her expertise to bear writing thought-provoking editorial and marketing materials on a variety of technology topics for leading IT publications and industry players.  Previously, she oversaw multimedia content development, writing and editing for special feature packages at Network World. In particular, she focused on advanced IT technology and its impact on business users and in so doing became a thought leader on the revolutionary changes remaking the corporate datacenter and enterprise IT architecture. Beth has a keen ability to identify business and technology trends, developing expertise through in-depth analysis and early adopter case studies. Over the years, she has earned more than a dozen national and regional editorial excellence awards for special issues from American Business Media, American Society of Business Press Editors,, and others.

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Re: the stuff of celebrations
  • 1/11/2013 9:50:05 AM

Statistical science would be an upcoming career choice I would image for lots of students. Number analysis can only be a booming field for those of that bent. With increasing stats available it's going to take some smart folks to make sense of just what's relevant and just what's just a curiosity for now.

Re: the stuff of celebrations
  • 1/3/2013 11:41:13 PM


Seth writes

There are so many way stats can be applied and it is not the boring number crunching that some people may think it is.


I'm certainly not complaining — much of my professional work in publuc transportation depends on the availability of statistics.

Which makes me wonder ... where are all those millions of statisticians when I'm spending hours trying to find simple statistics that don't seem to be available?


Re: the stuff of celebrations
  • 1/3/2013 9:16:13 PM

It just goes to show that we are in the information age.  Hopefully this video and organizations will help encourage others to study statistics!  There are so many way stats can be applied and it is not the boring number crunching that some people may think it is. 

Re: the stuff of celebrations
  • 1/3/2013 8:36:02 PM


Beth writes


... how could we have known that the field provided jobs for approximately 2.8 million employees (around 10 percent of all jobs in the UK) and contributed about $338 billion in terms of GVA (around 16 percent of total UK GVA)...?


The UK has been suffering terribly under the Tories' interminable austerity program, so I'd say, especially under those conditions, anything that provides jobs for 2.8 million Britons is worth celebrating.

Are they serious? 10% of UK jobs and 16% of the economy are focused on just producing statistics?  Now, that's some serious number-crunching... 


Re: the stuff of celebrations
  • 1/3/2013 1:12:37 PM

Lots and lots of confetti, just as long as it doesn't get in your champagne and creme brulee macaroons

the stuff of celebrations
  • 1/3/2013 12:12:23 PM

Sure. Let's celebrate. But I would like some champagne and creme brulee macarooons, please.

Oh yea, and confetti.