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December 7, 2011

Doing the Math: The Future of STATISTICA

Datanami Staff

When it comes to tried and true no-frills, low-level statistical packages that help scientists solve complex problems, there are more than a handful of solutions, many of which are open source, that come to mind.

Some might be getting a fresh look in the wake of the arrival of the “big data era” due to the need for scalable solutions that have stood the test of time.

Among these possibilities is the STATISTICA software, which has an enduring legacy in research analytics rooted in university work that began in 1984. In the early days of the company, a number of professors gathered to identify what they were lacking in terms of quantitative data analysis across their disparate fields. They concluded that was needed was custom statistical procedure that they could otherwise only find in “command-driven, inflexible and tedious-to-use mainframe (or mainframe-like) programs.”

While the end result of their efforts went through multiple iterations, versions, formats and names over the years, the company is still going strong, releasing version 10 of its STATISTICA software this year.

The company stresses that they are not just academically-rooted. According to their statement about what they’ve achieved over the last decades they have an:

“Enterprise-wide, scalable, fully Web-enabled distributed processing systems are utilized across a wide variety of industries and applications by leading global corporations in such areas as Banking, Insurance, Manufacturing, Power Generation & Distribution, Semiconductors, Pharmaceutical, Chemical, Petrochemical, Life Sciences, Retail, Social Analytics, Health Care, Oil & Gas, Food Processing, Automotive, Heavy Equipment, Telecom, R&D, and others. STATISTICA is widely used as an integral, component of corporate computer infrastructures to boost productivity and the bottom line, to increase safety, reduce industrial pollution, and help save the environment. It is also used in mission-critical manufacturing applications, in regulated FDA controlled industries [also to help achieve compliance with CFR Part 11 and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) regulations] and as a foundation of corporate-wide Six Sigma initiatives.”

According to John A. Wass, Ph.D., this coming year could bring a wider user base to StatSoft, the makers of STATISTICA. Aside from being heralded by some as one of a limited number of alternatives to SAS, Wass claims that the product is broadening from scientists and engineers to business and social science areas—many of which the company gave a shout out to during their roll call of involved industries above.

Wass, a professional statistician, says the newest version of the company’s software, STATISTICA 10 comes with an admirable host of new features that make it more appealing outside of the academic user base that has traditionally been its bread and butter. Among the features listed are the ability to play with a variety of new tests and routines, speed increments for computational efficiency, graphics technology that auto-detects hardware upgrades, and a number of simplification and integration features.

As Wass concluded, “STATISTICA always has had a very complete repertoire of statistical functions in an easy-to-use menu-driven format but the scope of the present edition broadens the user base from scientists and engineers, to the business and social science areas. There are now user forums and, as is true with most modern statistical software, an ever-expanding Internet presence.”

(Note: Wass provides a detailed review of the new update in context of user examples at the link above. Well worth the read if you’re evaluating data mining solutions and want a high-level look)