*Parameters* and *statistics* are both numbers which are calculated. The
difference between these two terms comes from where you get the
numbers from.
| A **parameter** is any number calculated from a
**population**. |
| A **statistic** is any number calculated from a
**sample**. |
It is important to remember that we are often concerned about the
population and the calculated parameters associated with that
population. However, we usually do not know or can not obtain these
values, so we rely on sampling and statistics to provide us with
inferences about the population.
For any given population such as the fire rate of spread for all
forest fires in Idaho during 2006 the parameters are fixed numbers,
while statistics will vary depending upon the sample within the
population.
It is important to understand that the use of statistics is
simply a means to an end. We only use statistics to estimate the
corresponding parameter in the population. |