Monday, September 21, 2009

The effect statistics has on the world

Why do we use statistics in our lives? We can use statistics in our daily lives for pretty much anything. Statistics is usually used to collect data, organize it, interpret it, and also analyze it. In today's world, people on the internet are using statistics for many different purposes. They either just want to present and describe information, or draw conclusions about their data. Other companies are now using statistics to make forecasts in order to improve their businesses. Statistics is being used more and more each day. For whatever purpose or main focus, statistics works efficiently. A place where statistics is used every day can be the stock market. How do you think they decide on whether or not the stock price is going up or down? Easy, they put what we call statistics in action. If you think about it there are an immense number of ways in which people can even become rich by using stats.
"Airfares made easy or easier," is an article I recently read in which the author discusses about an online software that predicts how much the price of an airline ticket will rise or fall during an amount of time. Can you imagine what this would do? It would give people an opportunity to save their money and buy when the time is right. Do the airline companies mind? Does it affect their profit? Absolutely not, because right after they decide when it is the best time to buy, Farecast itself takes them to the airline website to buy their tickets. This software is called, Farecast, and it was created by a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, Oren Etzioni. His new program requires tons of data that will search for information about the seats in airplanes and with that create an algorithm that will be able to predict whether the prices of the tickets will rise or fall. The company says that its success rate was between 70 to 75 percent and that the fares would move up or down according to the range that it predicted. This is what statistics is! Can you believe what Mr. Etzioni did with it? Well, do not be too surprised with this.
While reading the article, I also found many other programs that use the same technique in which statistics is involved in order to predict the outcome of something. Mr. Etzioni himself has also been involved with these other programs as well. MetaCrawler, which is a search engine, and also NetBot which I learned is an online comparison shopping service. A really interesting program that I read about on this article was Zillow.com. This website uses tons of statistics. It searches data in certain county land records and with that guesses on the value of (in 2006) 65 homes across the United States. In times like today with the Real Estate being really low, you can use this website to see how much your house could sell for and realize that it is definitely not the time to be selling. Another program that I find really helpful for many people is Inrix. This program uses data in order to predict traffic. How does it do this? It uses statistics by measuring the speed of a sample of population of vehicles that have satellite receivers, and also takes in consideration information such as weather and schedules of schools, or concerts. This information is then sold to companies that distribute it to Internet portals, cell phones, and in car navigation systems.
Science and also medicine are two subjects that are mostly based on statistics. It is very important that in these subjects, statistics is used daily and efficiently because it can help improve a new drug or a new electronic device that can be life saving to some people but can cause major problems for someone else. Prescription drugs are always based on a certain amount of people (statistically called a sample) who are then tested and examined in order to be able to record how they react to that certain drug. For example, there is a new vaccine for the H1N1 virus and the pharmacists will need to say who is more prone to react badly to it or what the side effects of it are. How would they know this? They had to have tested and then used statistics to predict the effects on an average amount of people.

Last but certainly not least are advertisements. I can’t think of a place where statistics could be used more than in ads. Everywhere you see there is an advertisement. How do they know which advertisements should be placed where or shown to what type of people? Yes, statistics! They study who resides where, or who is more prone to go on this certain website, who buys more of a certain type of product, etc. After knowing this statistics, it all becomes real easy for them to target innocent people who are just dying to spend more money of such products. Each one of us has been a victim of these examples. It is not easy to get away from statistics. It is everywhere. But what would we do without it? Not much, in reality we all take advantage of it and we love it!

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