International Year of Statistics

Jan 22, 2013

Statisticians are celebrating important contributions to society during The International Year of Statistics in 2013.

Kettering University and more than 1,400 organizations in 111 countries are combining energies in 2013 to promote the International Year of Statistics (Statistics2013), a worldwide initiative that will highlight the contributions of the statistics field to finding solutions to global challenges.

International Year of StatisticsThe goals of this awareness campaign are to:

  • increase public understanding of the power and impact of statistics on all aspects of society and
  • nurture statistics as a profession, especially among high-school and college students.

Statistics2013 participants include national and international professional societies, universities, schools, businesses, government agencies and research institutes. These groups will help millions of people understand the value of statistical science through seminars, workshops and outreach to students and the media.

Dr. Boyan DimitrovStatistics - the science of learning from data and of measuring, controlling and communicating uncertainty - is much more than numbers on sports pages. Statistical science has powerful and far-reaching effects on everyone, yet most people are unaware of how it improves their lives, said Dr. Boyan Dimitrov, a professor of Mathematics at Kettering University.  “For most people, statistics is an invisible science,” he said.  “Through this yearlong, worldwide awareness campaign, we will remove the veil that cloaks statistics from the public consciousness.”

Other Michigan universities supporting the International Year of Statistics include Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and nationally, the long supporter list includes Cornell, Duke, Harvard and Princeton.  See the entire list

Examples of the impact of statistics posterExamples of the impact of statistics abound in our society. For instance, statistics predicts weather and other natural hazards, powers Internet search engines and marketing campaigns, discovers and develops new drugs and makes the world secure and sustainable. Throughout the last two centuries, statistics was indispensable in confirming many of humankind’s greatest scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, such as the Higgs-Boson particle (often referred to as the "God particle,” an elementary particle predicted almost 50 years ago to exist) and the agricultural Green Revolution.

Today, statistics is improving the quality of human life on the world’s major continents:
Africa - Statistical analysis is reversing the cycle of poverty by improving literacy.
Asia - Transportation infrastructure is being improved based on statistical models of people flow.
Australia - Statistics was key in catching drug cheats during the 27th Olympic Games in 2000.
Europe - Statistical science is a critical tool in planning efficient recycling systems.
North America - Statistics is synthesizing evidence that improves treatments for heart conditions.
South America - Statistical methods are helping to feed the world by identifying new crop varieties in breeding experiments.

A new academic research by J. T. Brophy from University of Windsor, Canada, on female workers in Ontario’s Essex and Kent counties suggests elevated risk of breast cancer due to exposure to toxic chemicals associated with the plastic industry.

Statistics in many languagesThe Center for Public Integrity reports that “In the United States, an estimated 150,000 female workers in the plastics and synthetic rubber industries are likely exposed to many of the same chemicals as the women in Windsor, including polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, plastic; acrylonitrile; formaldehyde and styrene.”

“Our world is increasingly data-rich and data-dependent. Statistical analysis extracts information from this voluminous data to form the basis for decision-making in all types of organizations,” explains Dr. Dimitrov. “Without statistics, life would be very different. Lots of human and society experience would have been lost.”

Central features of the Statistics 2013 awareness campaign are its website,, and an informative two-and-a-half-minute video -- Why Statistics Is Important to You -- that explains how statistics improves the lives of the world’s seven billion people. The website includes the following:

What Is Statistics? An explanation in layman’s language;
Stats2013AtSchool: A statistics quiz for students;
Statistics as a Career: Information about the work of statisticians and careers in statistics;
Teacher Resources: Primary and secondary school resources, a downloadable flyer and posters;

Students at Kettering University will be involved in numerous projects tied to their courses and addressing industrial history and demographic development of Flint. The activities will culminate in 2014 in an international conference on recent achievements in statistical methods and tool for applications in urban analysis for educational purposes. The title of the conference is “One City, 100 Years Under Variability.” Best students projects will be posted on Kettering University website and made available for the public.  The public will be invited to register and attend the conference.

The founding organizations of Statistics2013 are the American Statistical Association, Institute of Mathematical Statistics, International Biometric Society, International Statistical Institute (and the Bernoulli Society), and Royal Statistical Society.

Contact: Patricia Mroczek