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What SED Does

Our Mission

The Statistical Engineering Division, part of NIST's Information Technology Laboratory, seeks to contribute to research in information technology, to catalyze scientific and industrial experimentation, and to improve communication of research results by working collaboratively with, and developing effective statistical methods for, NIST scientists and our partners in industry.

In carrying out this mission, SED collaborates in NIST measurement science and technology research programs to support U.S. industry through design of experiments, statistical modeling, and data analysis. We participate in ITL's interdisciplinary research and development teams to advance information technology; we contribute to the development of appropriate statistical methodology, building on a foundation of pertinent topics in probability and mathematical statistics; and we provide leadership and computational tools to facilitate the implementation of modern statistical design, analysis and process control procedures.

Our Role

The role of SED extends across NIST; SED staff actively collaborate with more than 90% of the scientific Divisions at NIST, both on the Gaithersburg and Boulder campuses, and provide statistical support for some of the administrative offices as well. Basic collaborations include core support to provide a statistical basis for certification for Standard Reference Materials produced at NIST, statistical methodology and documentation for NIST calibration services, and education and training of NIST scientists and engineers in the implementation of appropriate statistical methodology.

As members of multidisciplinary teams, SED staff collaborate more fundamentally to scientific research at NIST to define research objectives, to formulate statistical strategies and develop statistical methods for process characterization and to analyze experimental data. The statistical expertise central to a particular multidisciplinary research project may lie in any of many sub disciplines of statistics (including experimental design, generalized linear models, stochastic models, Bayesian inference, time series analysis, reliability analysis, statistical signal processing, image analysis, spatial statistics, quality control, exploratory data analysis, statistical computation and graphics, etc.). However, the SED objective is always to strengthen the fundamental research design and to implement the most powerful statistical tools for drawing inferences and for estimating uncertainties. Success in these collaborations is largely due to the deep involvement of SED staff with the science itself via their scientist colleagues.

SED also contributes internationally to metrology through the development of statistical methodology and statistical tools for metrologists to use worldwide. Increasing attention to international intercomparisons and international acceptance of standards from national metrology laboratories has increased the prominence of statistics in metrology.

Problems unique to metrology as well as problems unique to NIST that require extraordinarily high precision in their formulation often necessitate innovations in statistical methodology. This fundamental statistical research at SED, whether in probabilistic modeling, in design of experiments, in theory and methodology of inference, in computationally intensive statistical tools or in Bayesian inference and modeling, expands the statistical methodology available to NIST scientists, to US industry and to metrologists worldwide. This research also contributes in a fundamental way to the discipline of statistics.

The educational role of SED within NIST extends to development and presentation of short courses and workshops on topics in statistical methodology. These are designed to equip scientists with sufficient understanding of basic statistical methodology to be competent data analysts for standard experiments and to be astute customers when specialized statistical methodology is needed. Increasing attention is being given to making statistical tools available via both internal NIST and external NIST web pages. A highly successful program of statistical research opportunities gives undergraduate and graduate students the chance to explore the sub discipline of statistical metrology while contributing to SED activities.

The professional staff comprises two Groups of mathematical statisticians with graduate degrees. One of the Groups is located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and the other is in Boulder, Colorado. Also integral to SED activities are Visiting Faculty from several universities.

Created July 11, 2016, Updated November 15, 2019