Adapted from Chapter 4, Techniques for Nuclear and Particle Physics Experiments, by W. R. Leo, Springer-Verlag 1992

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W. R. Leo

Statistics plays an essential part in all the sciences as it is the tool which allows the scientist to treat the uncertainties inherent in all measured data and to eventually draw conclusions from the results. For the experimentalist, it is also a design and planning tool. Indeed, before performing any measurement, one must consider the tolerances required of the apparatus, the measuring times involved, etc., as a function of the desired precision on the result. Such an analysis is essential in order to determine its feasibility in material, time and cost.

Statistics, of course, is a subject unto itself and it is neither fitting nor possible to cover all the principles and techniques in a book of this type. We have therefore limited ourselves to those topics most relevant for experimental nuclear and particle physics. Nevertheless, given the (often underestimated) importance of statistics we shall try to give some view of the general underlying principles along with examples, rather than simple "recipes" or "rules of thumb". This hopefully will be more useful to the physicist in the long run, if only because it stimulates him to look further. We assume here an elementary knowledge of probability and combinatorial theory.

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