Some consider statistics to be a mathematical body of science pertaining 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 to be a distinct mathematical science rather than a branch of mathematics.
Statisticians improve the quality of data with the design of experiments and survey sampling. Statistics also provides tools for prediction and forecasting using data and statistical models. Statistics is applicable to a wide variety of academic disciplines, including natural and social sciences, government, and business. Statistical consultants are available to provide help for organizations and companies without direct access to expertise relevant to their particular problems.
Statistical methods can be used for summarizing or describe a collection of data; this is called descriptive statistics. This is useful in research, when communicating the results of experiments. In addition, patterns in the data may be modeled in a way that accounts for randomness and uncertainty in the observations, and are then used for drawing inferences about the process or population being studied; this is called inferential statistics. Inference is a vital element of scientific advance, since it provides a prediction (based in data) for where a theory logically leads.