I saw a chart on Twitter, about the precursors to data science. I was surprised to see that their graph is missing many links and entities such as computer science. Data science contributes more to statistics than the other way around. This view is biased towards making statistics the birth place of all modern data processing.

I then decided to create my own graph, summarizing my thoughts on data science. My graph is illustrated in figure 1, the other one in figure 2. Which one do you agree most with? Note that in my graph, an arrow from data science to statistics means that data science contributes to statistics. 

Figure 1: The Building Blocks of Data Science, by Vincent Granville

Figure 2: The Building Precursors to Data Science, probably by Diego Kuonen

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Comment by Randy Bartlett on March 7, 2015 at 12:40pm



Sorry your feelings are hurt.  It does bring out your humorous side though. 


Your claim: 'Statisticians didn't change WW2 at all.' 

Diego provided a sagely attachment. 

I wrote that, "Statistics had a major impact on agriculture and manufacturing leading up to and during the war."  As you can image, agriculture and manufacturing were two of the most important factors in winning World War II.  Without the 'grain shipments,' Britain might have fallen in 1940.  Britain and Russia received all manner of war and other economic equipment from the US.  You are unable to refute either Diego’s contribution or mine, either of which contradict your claim. 


Have a great day!

Your pal, Randy

Comment by Sione Palu on March 5, 2015 at 10:46pm

Randy said.... "Statistics had a major impact on agriculture and manufacturing leading up to and during the war. "

Randy,  you're going off to the irrelevant argument. Arguing from a position of ignorance.  Hitler had statisticians that contributed to his war economy because the German population & army were'nt obviously starving during the war. Hitler's statisticians surely had a major impact on agriculture and manufacturing in Germany leading up to and during the war. They were well fed (army & the population). But did they win the war?  Nope. Therefore, it wasn't the statisticians' efforts that decided winning or losing the war.

I suggest that you learn about history & technology, then comment further. You should give credit to where its due. The whole revolution in microelectronics were due to the advancement of Quantum Mechanics in the 1940s & 1950s (the names I listed in my previous messages made huge contributions to this field). That's why you have Silicon Valley, because of the revolution in the invention of semiconductor devices like transistors in the 1940s and 1950s. Physicists William Bradford Shockley ,  John Bardeen and Walter Brattain invented the silicon transistor in the late 1940s / early 1950s & they won the Physics Nobel prize for that invention. That's what digital devices of today (computers, cellphones, etc,...) are built upon. The invention of transistor led to Silicon Valley becoming a hotbed of electronics innovation (Intel & others). A whole lot of innovative companies in the Valley (Google, Facebook, and so forth) have continued on to advance innovation to date in technology development (despite not diretly related to silicon chip) simply because of that electronic industry explosion in the 1950s started by physicists.

Again, stop trying to be cry-baby in trying to equating statisticians to the work of physicists in WW2.

Comment by Randy Bartlett on March 4, 2015 at 4:59pm


RE: Why not give credit where its due? 

RESP: Agreed, why don't you?  You wrote, 'Statisticians didn't change WW2 at all.' 


Statistics had a major impact on agriculture and manufacturing leading up to and during the war.  Claiming that it was one thing, physics, that won the war is ridiculous.   

It takes professional maturity to admit you are wrong. Good luck with that. 

Comment by Sione Palu on March 4, 2015 at 3:12pm

The information from my messages is all on wikipedia . Just check out those names I've  listed in my previous messages.

Why not give credit where its due?  Don't try to be cry-baby by implying that "Oh no, us statisticians contributed to the defeat of the Nazi & Fascists".  I stated clearly in my previous message that there's no doubt that Statisticians contributed, but NOT MAJOR contributions that win or lose the war. Hitler had his own statisticians & mathematicians working in his war machinery production at the time. Did he win? No!  His physicists would have won them the war had they got to the bomb first. On the other hand, the physicists in the US got to the bomb first and that's history.

"New Book Says U.S. Plotted To Kill Top Nazi Scientist"


Comment by Randy Bartlett on March 4, 2015 at 12:39pm

Sione, is your reference Wikipedia?  ... or is there a reference somewhere on this long write-up? 

There is no justice when it comes to getting credit for your ideas or your work.  Why is it important to you that physicists be credited with everything and that you refute Diego's statement that interdisciplinary teams should receive some credit?  Are you a physicist? 

RE: Statisticians didn't change WW2 at all. 

RESP: Do you still believe this after reading Diego's reference? 

Comment by Sione Palu on March 4, 2015 at 9:02am

Pearson may be regarded as the father of modern statistics but I think that physicist  Ludwig Boltzmann was doing advanced work on atomic theory mechanics by applying statistics in the branch of physics called Statistical Mechanics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_mechanics) ahead of Pearson.

Comment by Sione Palu on March 4, 2015 at 8:51am

Dr Kuonen said "In my opinion nor statistics, neither mathematicians nor physicists on their own did change it".  That's false.  Mathematicians & Physicists changed the war. Don't try to re-invent history. Sure statisticians played a role but a minor role one of which was not directly related weaponry. It was superior technology & superior weapons that won the war, not counting beans like visiting the sites of RAF bombing raids to find out whether pilots’ reports of the damage they had done matched reality. The Manhattan Project was super-secret that even Jon Von Neuman & colleagues code-named their simulation method "monte-carlo" because one of his team member visited Monte-Carlo in Europe  before the war & loved it.

Physicist Werner Heisenberg from Germany (A Physics Nobel Laureate) was spearheading the Nazi's nuclear bomb research. The Allies (US & UK) sent secret agents to Germany during the war to track & assassinate Heisenberg to slow down German's research & advance to building the atom bomb because in their view, that whoever got to the bomb first, they would be the winner, irrelevant of who had the best minds, be it mathematicians, statisticians or physicists. The many attempted assassination on Heisenberg's life were unsuccessful but at the same time the Allies advanced faster than Heisenberg & the Nazi's in the race to build the first atom bomb . Had Prof Heisenberg got to the atom bomb first, then the article you linked to about statisticians changing the world war 2 wouldn't have been published today, instead, you would see an article titled "How the German physicists developed an atom bomb to win world war 2". But lucky that mathematicians & physicists at Los Alamos to the atom bomb first and not Heisenberg & the Nazi.

The team at Los Alamos were running monte-carlo simulation on a primitive computer at the time in their research to developing nuclear bomb. So, that was the data-science work right there in the middle of world war 2.

Comment by Prof. Dr. Diego Kuonen on March 4, 2015 at 7:19am

Did you read the article at http://www.economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21636589-how-stati...? I really propose you to read it through the end.

In my opinion nor statistics, neither mathematicians nor physicists on their own did change it. It was whole iterative problem solving cycle/process that was mastered through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary team effort; mixing data-driven insights with subject matter knowledge and science!

And there we are again in the context of Vincent's original post where the blocks correspond to different people!

PS. Apologies, however, that  statistics is THE science of measuring, controlling and communicating uncertainty. Please see also https://twitter.com/DiegoKuonen/status/572776000267952129

Comment by Sione Palu on March 4, 2015 at 12:23am

Statisticians didn't change WW2 at all.  It was mathematicians & physicists who changed WW2.  Mathematician  Alan Turing was the leading expert from Britain in developing enigma code-breaking to read German electronic communication traffic.  In the US,  Physicists who got involved in the Manhattan Project (atomic bomb) were Robert Oppenheimer,  Hans Bethe, Eugene Wigner, Richard Feynman, John  Wheeler, Arthur Compton, Jon Von Neumann, Ernest Lawrence, Enrico Fermi , Edward Teller and others. Almost all the physicists were Nobel Laureates. The monte-carlo method was first developed during that project by  Jon Von Neumann & colleagues at Los Alamos as key simulation steps in the nuclear physics involved in thermonuclear reactions and the hydrogen bomb. Hadn't Germany surrendered by 1945, they would have been made to surrender with a nuclear bomb just the same way as Japan surrendered & therefore ended the war. 

Comment by Prof. Dr. Diego Kuonen on March 3, 2015 at 11:16pm

Just as an additional comment, this is what statistics is about:

  • Statistics: the science of "learning from data" (or of making sense out of data), and of measuring, controlling and communicating uncertainty.

Interpreting information extracted from (big and any) data requires statistical principles and rigour as one can easily be fooled by patterns that arise by chance.

For example, in 2009 Hal Varian (Google’s chief economist) dubbed statistician as `the sexy job in the next ten years’. More recently, Eric Schmidt (Google's chairman and former CEO) and Jonathan Rosenberg (former senior vice president of product) write in their 2014 book `How Google Works’: `big data needs statisticians to make sense of it’.

In my opinion, the key element for a successful `big data’ and 'data science' future are statistical principles and rigour of humans (including hopefully also plenty of statisticians)!

Please also find a detailed presentation of my view on big data, data science and statistics at http://goo.gl/xTcTr9 and/or http://goo.gl/dsXco1

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