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The present day society is essentially information oriented. In various fields, we need information in the form of numerical figures called data. These data may relate to profits of a company, production of agricultural crops and in various sectors of the daily life. Statistics is the science which helps us in drawing useful conclusions from the given numerical data.

The word 'Statistics' appears to have been derived from the Latin word "status" meaning "a (political) state". In its origin, Statistics was simply the collection of numerical data on different aspects of life of the people useful to the State.
The word Statistics is used in two forms.

(i) singular form
(ii) plural form

Singular form
In singular form, Statistics may be defined as the science of collection, analysis, presentation and interpretation of numerical data.

Plural Form
In plural form, Statistics means numerical facts or observations collected with a definite purpose.

Fundamental Characteristics of Statistics

Following are the main characteristics of statistics:

1. Statistics are expressed quantitatively and not qualitatively.

2. Statistics are a sum total of observations. A single observation does not form statistics.

3. Statistics are collected with a definite purpose.

4. Statistics in an experiment can be classified into various groups. So the statistics in different experiment are comparable.

Limitations of Statistics

Following are the limitations of Statistics:

(i) The laws of Statistics are not exact. They are true only on average.

(ii) Statistics does not deal with individuals but it deals with groups.

(iii) The data collected for one purpose does not suit for another purpose.

(iv) Statistics does not suit to the study of qualitative phenomena like honesty, kindness, poverty, etc.

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