Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments.
The word statistics, when referring to the scientific discipline, is singular, as in "Statistics is an art." This should not be confused with the word statistic, referring to a quantity (such as mean or median) calculated from a set of data, whose plural is statistics ("this statistic seems wrong" or "these statistics are misleading").
Some consider statistics a mathematical body of science that pertains to the collection, analysis, interpretation or explanation, and presentation of data, while others consider it a branch of mathematics concerned with collecting and interpreting data. Because of its empirical roots and its focus on applications, statistics is usually considered a distinct mathematical science rather than a branch of mathematics. Much of statistics is non-mathematical: ensuring that data collection is undertaken in a way that produces valid conclusions; coding and archiving data so that information is retained and made useful for international comparisons of official statistics; reporting of results and summarised data (tables and graphs) in ways comprehensible to those who must use them; implementing procedures that ensure the privacy of census information.
Statisticians improve data quality by developing specific experiment designs and survey samples. Statistics itself also provides tools for prediction and forecasting the use of data and statistical models. Statistics is applicable to a wide variety of academic disciplines, including natural and social sciences, government, and business. Statistical consultants can help organizations and companies that don't have in-house expertise relevant to their particular questions.
Statistical methods can summarize or describe a collection of data. This is called descriptive statistics. This is particularly useful in communicating the results of experiments and research. In addition, data patterns may be modeled in a way that accounts for randomness and uncertainty in the observations.