What’s the Difference Between Data Science and Statistics?

Not long ago, the term “data science” meant nothing to most people—even to those who worked with data. A likely response to the term was: “Isn’t that just statistics?”

These days, data science is hot. The Harvard Business Review called data scientist the “Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.”

So what changed? Why did data science become a distinct term? And what distinguishes data science from statistics?


The very first line of the American Statistical Association’s definition of statistics is “Statistics is the science of learning from data…” Given that the words “data” and “science” appear in the definition, one might assume that data science is just a rebranding of statistics. A number of Twitter humorists certainly have:

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