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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The History of Statistics

Origin of The Word
The word statistik comes from Italian word statista (meaning "statesman). It was first used by Gottfried Achenwall (1719-1772), a professor at Marlborough and Gottingen. Dr. E. A. W. Zimmerman introduced the word statistics into England. Its use was popularized by Sir John Sinclair in his work Statistical Account of Scotland 1791-1799. Long before the eighteenth century, people had been recording and using data.

Early Government Records
Official government statistics are as old as recorded history. The Old Testament contain several accounts of census taking. Governments of ancient Babylonia, Egypt, and Rome gathered detailed records of populations and resources. In the Middle Ages, governments began to register the ownership of land. In A.D. 762, Charlemagne asked for detailed descriptions of church-owned properties. Early in the ninth century, he completed a statistical enumeration of the serfs attached to the land. About 1086. William the Conqueror ordered the writing of Domesday Book, a record of the ownership, extent and value of the lands of England. This work was England's first statistical abstract.

An early prediction from statistics
Because of Henry VII's fear of the plague, England began to register its dead in 1532. About this same time, French law required the clergy to register baptisms, deaths and marriages. During an outbreak of the plague in the late 1500s, the English government started publishing weekly death statistics. This practice continued, and by 1632, these Bills of Mortality listed births and death by sex. In 1662, Captain John Graunt used 30 years of  these Bills to make predictions about the number of people who would die from various diseases and the proportions of male and female births that could be expected. Summarized in his work Natural and Political Observations... Made Upon the Bills of Mortality, Graunt's study was a pioneer effort in statistical analysis. For his achievement in using past records to predict future events, Graunt was made a member of the original Royal Society.
The history of the  .... (to be continued) :)