A Web-based Statistical Analysis Framework
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Statistical software packages have been used for decades to perform statistical analyses. Recently, the emergence of the Internet has expanded the potential for these packages. However, none of the existing packages have fully realized the collaborative potential of the Internet. This medium, which is beginning to gain acceptance as a software development platform, allows people who might otherwise be separated by organizational or geographic barriers to come together and tackle complex issues using commonly available data sets, analysis tools and communications tools. Interestingly, there has been little work towards solving this problem in a generally applicable way. Rather, systems in this area have tended to focus on particular data sets, industries, or user groups. The Web-based statistical analysis model described in this thesis fills this gap. It includes a statistical analysis engine, data set management tools, an analysis storage framework and a communication component to facilitate information dissemination. Furthermore, its focus on enabling users with little statistical training to perform basic data analysis means that users of all skill levels will be able to take advantage of its capabilities. The value of the system is shown both through a rigorous analysis of the system’s structure and through a detailed case study conducted with the tobacco control community.