Biostatistics

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Biostatistics (a contraction of biology and statistics; sometimes referred to as biometry or biometrics) is the application of statistics to a wide range of topics in biology. The science of biostatistics encompasses the design of biological experiments, especially in medicine and agriculture; the collection, summarization, and analysis of data from those experiments; and the interpretation of, and inference from, the results.

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Biostatistics and the history of biological thought

Biostatistical reasoning and modeling were of critical importance to the foundation theories of modern biology. In the early 1900s, after the rediscovery of Mendel's work, the conceptual gaps in understanding between genetics and evolutionary Darwinism led to vigorous debate between biometricians such as Walter Weldon and Karl Pearson and Mendelians such as Charles Davenport, William Bateson and Wilhelm Johannsen. By the 1930s statisticians and models built on statistical reasoning had helped to resolve these differences and to produce the neo-Darwinian modern evolutionary synthesis.

The leading figures in the establishment of this synthesis all relied on statistics and developed its use in biology.

These individuals and the work of other biostatisticians, mathematical biologists, and statistically inclined geneticists helped bring together evolutionary biology and genetics into a consistent, coherent whole that could begin to be quantitatively modeled.

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