Resources - Definitions

Biostatistics (a contraction of biology and statistics; sometimes referred to as biometry or biometrics) is the application of statistics to a wide range of topics in biology. The science of biostatistics encompasses the design of biological experiments; the collection, summarization, and analysis of data from those experiments; and the interpretation of, and inference from, the results.

Bioinformatics is the application of statistics and computer science to the field of molecular biology.

The term bioinformatics was coined by Paulien Hogeweg in 1979 for the study of informatic processes in biotic systems. Its primary use since at least the late 1980s has been in genomics and genetics, particularly in those areas of genomics involving large-scale DNA sequencing.

Bioinformatics now entails the creation and advancement of databases, algorithms, computational and statistical techniques and theory to solve formal and practical problems arising from the management and analysis of biological data.

The primary goal of bioinformatics is to increase the understanding of biological processes. What sets it apart from other approaches, however, is its focus on developing and applying computationally intensive techniques (e.g., pattern recognition, data mining, machine learning algorithms, and visualization) to achieve this goal. Major research efforts in the field include sequence alignment, gene finding, genome assembly, drug design, drug discovery, protein structure alignment, protein structure prediction, prediction of gene expression and protein-protein interactions, genome-wide association studies and the modeling of evolution.

Statistics is the formal science of making effective use of numerical data relating to groups of individuals or experiments. It deals with all aspects of this, including not only the collection, analysis and interpretation of such data, but also the planning of the collection of data, in terms of the design of surveys and experiments.

Statistics is not a field of mathematics but an autonomous mathematical science, like computer science or operations research. Being concerned with the scientific method and inductive logic, statistical theory has close association with the philosophy of science; with its emphasis on learning from data and making best predictions, statistics has great overlap with the decision science. With its concerns with data, statistics has overlap with information science and computer science.

Some scholars pinpoint the origin of statistics to 1663, with the publication of Natural and Political Observations upon the Bills of Mortality by John Graunt. Early applications of statistical thinking revolved around the needs of states to base policy on demographic and economic data, hence its stat- etymology.

The term statistics is ultimately derived from the New Latin statisticum collegium ("council of state") and the Italian word statista ("statesman" or "politician"). The German Statistik, first introduced by Gottfried Achenwall (1749), originally designated the analysis of data about the state, signifying the "science of state" (then called political arithmetic in English). It acquired the meaning of the collection and classification of data generally in the early 19th century. It was introduced into English between 1786 and 1798 by Sir John Sinclair.

Its mathematical foundations were laid in the 17th century with the development of probability theory by Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat. The method of least squares was first described by Carl Friedrich Gauss around 1794.

Adapted from:
Wikipedia contributors. Biostatistics. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. July 28, 2010, 06:04 UTC. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Biostatistics&oldid=375865629. Accessed July 29, 2010.
Wikipedia contributors. Bioinformatics. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. July 21, 2010, 21:04 UTC. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bioinformatics&oldid=374740693. Accessed July 29, 2010.
Wikipedia contributors. Statistics. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. July 28, 2010, 20:34 UTC. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Statistics&oldid=375971497. Accessed July 29, 2010.