What actually is statistics?

In the modern era of computers and data science, there is a ton of things discussed that are of "statistical" nature. Data science essentially is glorified statistics with a computer, AI is deeply statistical at its very core, we use statistical analysis for pretty much everything from economy to biology. But what actually is it? What exactly does it mean that something is statistical? 

The short story of statistics

I don't want to get into the history of statistical studies, but rather take a birds eye view on the topic. Let's start with a basic fact: we live in a complex world which provides to us various signals. We tend to conceptualize these signals as mathematical functions. A function is the most basic way of representing a fact that some value changes with some argument (typically time in physical world). We observe these signals and try to predict them. Why do we want to predict them? Because if we can predict a future evolution of some physical system, we can position ourselves to extract energy from it when that prediction turns out accurate [but this is a story for a whole other post]. This is very fundamental, but in principle … Read more...