Statistical modeling and analysis, including the collection and interpretation of data, form an essential part of the scientific method in diverse fields, including social, biological, and physical sciences. Statistical theory is primarily based on the mathematical theory of probability, and covers a wide range of topics, from highly abstract areas to topics directly relevant for applications. Research in statistics covers many issues, some closely tied to theoretical principles of statistical inference, and others more concerned with developing and extending techniques for descriptive and exploratory analysis of data. The theory and practice of designing the efficient collection of datathrough experiments, surveys, and observational studies constitute important areas of statistics. Since computers play a major and often crucial role in statistical research through simulation techniques, and in statistical applications through the analysis of data, statistical computation is another major subfield.
New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education