Statistics and Data Science

The UCLA Department of Statistics was founded in 1998 and has become a leader in the development of statistical methodology that exploits the increasing availability of data and computing.

Over the last three decades, a new interdisciplinary field centered around the ability to access and analyze data has emerged. The field employs advanced mathematics, statistics, and computer science, in concert with the remarkable growth in the capacity of computers, to achieve insights, and to make predictions and decisions in ways that would have been science fiction in 1985. This new field is driven by data and new problems, often in areas where data has not been important before. Taken together this synthesis of questions, data, and tools form what has been popularly called “Data Science”.

Statistics was the original science of data and is a foundation of the Data Science field. It has evolved with Data Science, introducing fundamental ideas and methods. In particular, it has developed, in collaboration with other fields, new methods and statistical theories now at the core of data science. Statistics is a discipline in which all research and educational activities are focused on the study of the collection and analysis of data.

Given these developments, we are excited to announce our name change to Department of Statistics and Data Science. The motivation was not due to substantial change within the department, but rather the increased recognition by others of the importance of data in the world. Indeed, the world has evolved toward our view of data. This new joint name is more reflective of our true identity – and they both deserve recognition.

This name change better places the department with its peers and will improve recognition and understanding of our mission. Discussion with several groups of students suggests the name change better communicates the nature of our courses. This, in turn, leads us be more inclusive and toward a more diverse department. A wider pool of students would provide more scope for us to develop and promote statistics and data science to a more diverse group – something we are wholeheartedly committed to.

The department has expanded to include a wide range of expertise in Data Science, reflecting the growing presence of this field across multiple departments. Our original undergraduate statistics degree blends theory, applications, and computational statistics. It develops data analysis skills, improves students’ statistical thinking, and utilizes modern technology both to analyze data and to develop understanding. Its new title: BS Statistics and Data Science describes it accurately.

In 2019 the Department of Statistics and the Department of Mathematics joined together to create a first-of-its-kind major in Data Theory. This focuses on the statistical and mathematical foundations of Data Science. The Data Theory Major is a Data Science Major that provides students a rigorous understanding of the foundational concepts that underlie the methods and tools of Data Science.

The Statistics Major and Data Theory Major are distinct Data Science Majors. The Statistics degree is primarily designed for students who wish to apply current “state-of-the-art” skills and tools. The Data Theory degree is intended for those who wish to have a deeper understanding of the principles underlying Data Science, so they can build the tools of tomorrow.

The department also offers two minors. The Minor in Statistics and Data Science provides a solid background in statistics and data science for students majoring in other disciplines. The Minor in Social Data Science focus on the tools and data types in the social sciences.

UCLA Statistics and Data Science provides a multidisciplinary, integrative environment that prepares students to become innovators in every field, including environmetrics, computational biology, social statistics as well as statistical learning, machine learning, applied statistics, business, and education.

UCLA Department of Statistics and Data Science
June 2023