Message from the Chair

The purpose of Statistics is to design, construct, and evaluate techniques for analyzing data. The data can be qualitative or quantitative, self-reported or machine-collected, and the motivations can be scientific, commercial, legal, or policy.

Aided by the development of the computer, the adoption of statistical methods grew enormously during the twentieth century. The field of Statistics is continuing to change in response to the remarkable increase in demand for statistical thinking and methodology in research, industry and business.

The Department of Statistics was founded in 1998 to meet this demand. By building on the traditional strengths in probability, mathematical statistics and applications of the UCLA Mathematics, Biomathematics and Biostatistics Departments, the Department of Statistics has become a leader in the development of statistical methodology that exploits the increasing power of computers. Research in the department focuses on statistical machine learning, computer vision, computational biology, social sciences, and environmetrics. We also have faculty whose research is dedicated to improving the quality of statistics education.

Over the last couple of decades, a new interdisciplinary field centered around the ability to access and analyze data has emerged. In concert with the remarkable growth in the amount of data and the capacity of computing, this field employs statistics, computer science, and mathematics to make inferences, predictions and decisions for many applied domains. Taken together this synthesis of questions, data, and tools form what has been popularly called “Data Science”. The emergence of data science and analytics and the ubiquitous use of statistical ideas have required us to quickly adapt both our teaching and research. In 2023, our department changed its name 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.

Our graduate program offers three degrees. Our Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Science (MS) degrees are structured around three core course sequences that introduce students to the science of data: theoretical statistics, data analysis, and statistical computing. This balance of training prepares our graduates for positions in academia, industry and government. Many of our PhD students graduate to research and teaching positions in first-rate universities and research institutions around the world. We have recently added a Master of Applied Statistics and Data Science (MASDS) degree. The MASDS program prepares students for work in industry through an emphasis on methods and theory commonly used in applications.

We offer two undergraduate majors, the Statistics & Data Science Major and the Data Theory Major. Our undergraduate program in Statistics & Data Science offers a broad range of courses covering applications, computation, and theory. Statistics, as a discipline, is inter-disciplinary, applied, and increasingly computational. To reflect this, we provide our students the opportunity to do real-world data analysis via a capstone consulting course. In 2019, together with the Department of Mathematics, we created a first-of-its-kind major in Data Theory, which focuses on the statistical and mathematical foundations of Data Science. The Data Theory Major provides students a rigorous understanding of the foundational concepts that underlie the methods and tools of Data Science. In addition, we offer two undergraduate minors, the Statistics & Data Science Minor and the Social Data Science Minor.

Furthermore, we continue to provide training in statistics for graduate students from other departments and undergraduates from throughout the College. As the value of statistical ideas and methodologies has become more appreciated, our classes have increased in number and student quality.

Finally, as an interdisciplinary field, we keep close collaborative ties with other sciences, including the physical, social and life sciences and public health.

Our website tells you about our individual faculty research interests, our degree programs, and provides information about how you can apply to our graduate or undergraduate programs. Follow these directions to come visit us in person in the Mathematical Sciences Building.

Welcome to Statistics & Data Science at UCLA!

Qing Zhou
Professor and Chair