I was trained as a mathematician and it was only last year, when I attended the Royal Statistical Society conference and met many statisticians that I understood how different the two groups are.
In mathematics you often start with some axioms, things you assume to be true, and these axioms are then the basis from which new theory is derived. In statistics or more general in science you start with a theory, or better a hypothesis and try to disprove it.
At last week’s Royal Statistical Society (RSS) conference Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google, gave a panel talk about ‘Statistics at Google’. Could he get a better audience than the RSS? Hal talked about his career in academia and at Google. He reminded us of the days when Google was still a small start up with no real idea about how they could actually generate revenue. At that time Eric Schmidt asked him to ‘take a look’ at advertising because ‘it might make us a little money’.