Data Scientist vs. Statistician

There’s in interesting discussion over at reddit on the difference between a data scientist and a statistician. My crude summary of the discussion seems to be that by and large they are the same but the phrase “data scientist” is just the hip new name for statistician that will probably sound stupid 5 years from now.

My question is why isn’t “statistician” hip? The comments don’t seem to address that much (although a few go in that direction).  There a few interesting comments about computing. For example from ByteMining:

Statisticians typically don’t care about performance or coding style as long as it gets a result. A loop within a loop within a loop is all the same as an O(1) lookup.

Another more down-to-earth comment comes from marshallp:

There is a real distinction between data scientist and statistician

  • the statistician spent years banging his/her head against blackboards full of math notation to get a modestly paid job

  • the data scientist gets s—loads of cash after having learnt a scripting language and an api

More people should be encouraged into data science and not pointless years of stats classes

 Not sure I fully agree but I see where he’s coming from!

[Note: See also our post on how determine whether you are a data scientist.]