What Mathematicians and Statisticians Do
Mathematicians and statisticians work with formulas and data to help solve problems in industry, academia, and government.
Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.
Mathematicians and statisticians typically do the following:
- Decide what data are needed to answer specific questions or problems
- Apply mathematical theories and techniques to solve practical problems in business, engineering, the sciences, and other fields
- Design surveys, experiments, or opinion polls to collect data
- Develop mathematical or statistical models to analyze data
- Interpret data and communicate analyses to technical and nontechnical audiences
- Use statistical software to analyze data and create visualizations to aid decision making in business
To solve problems, mathematicians rely on statisticians to design surveys, questionnaires, experiments, and opinion polls for collecting the data they need. For most surveys and opinion polls, statisticians gather data from some people in a particular group. Statisticians determine the type and size of this sample for collecting data in the survey or poll.
Following data collection is analysis, which involves mathematicians and statisticians using specialized statistical software. In their analyses, mathematicians and statisticians identify trends and relationships within the data. They also conduct tests to determine the data’s validity and to account for possible errors. Some help write software code to analyze data more accurately and efficiently.
Mathematicians and statisticians present findings from their analyses and discuss the data’s limitations in order to ensure accurate interpretation. They may present written reports, tables, and charts to team members, clients, and other users.
Mathematicians and statisticians work in any field that benefits from data analysis, including education, government, healthcare, and research and development.
Colleges and universities. Mathematicians and statisticians working in postsecondary schools may study theoretical or abstract concepts in these fields. They identify, research, and work to resolve unexplained issues in mathematics and explore mathematical or statistical theories to increase knowledge and understanding about the field.
Government. Mathematicians and statisticians working in government develop surveys and collect and analyze data on a variety of topics, including employment, crop production, and energy use. At all levels of government, these data help to inform policy proposals and decisions that affect the public.
Healthcare. Statisticians known as biostatisticians or biometricians work in pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, or hospitals. They may design studies to test whether drugs successfully treat diseases or medical conditions. They may also help identify the sources of outbreaks of illnesses in humans and animals.
Research and development. Mathematicians and statisticians design experiments for product testing and development. For example, they may help design experiments to see how car engines perform when exposed to extreme weather or analyze consumer data for use in developing marketing strategies.
Typically, mathematicians and statisticians work on teams with other specialists to solve problems. For example, they may work with chemists, materials scientists, and chemical engineers to analyze the effectiveness of a new drug.