In the 1990s, the National Bureau of Standards was distributing a popular statistical document, the Handbook 91, written by Mary Natrella of the NBS Statistical Engineering Laboratory. A request by Patrick Spagon of the Statistical Methods Group of SEMATECH, a consortium of major U.S. semiconductor manufacturers, to update the NBS Handbook 91, Experimental Statistics, led to the creation of a project team from NIST and SEMATECH to create a new web-based statistical handbook including statistical software.
The goal of the NIST/SEMATECH e-Handbook of Statistical Methods (also called the Engineering Statistical Handbook), is “to help scientists and engineers incorporate statistical methods into their work as efficiently as possible,” according to the website. It is intended to assist engineers and scientists in developing their own expertise, design their own experiments, and use the appropriate statistical analysis. It also serves as a useful educational tool to help users understand and apply the proper statistical tools to their work.
Numerous case studies are integrated into the text and designed to work with the statistical software, DATAPLOT, available for free download in the “Tools & Aids” section. A fill-in-the-blank worksheet with sample data allows the user to quickly and easily duplicate the calculations with his or her own data. To make the software as useful as possible, it is available for seven operating systems: Linux/Unix, Windows (PC) versions 7/8/10, Mac OS X version 10.10, and Mac OS X Version 10.9.
I have been using this software at home and for my consulting work ever since I discovered it by accident in 1998. At Hewlett-Packard, we had our own statistics software that we sold, and later, other companies I worked for used MiniTab. These were excellent statistical programs, but they weren’t free! DATAPLOT is equal-to-or-better-than these expensive purchased statistical tools, with the added benefit of case studies and hyper-text manuals. I think this is an essential tool for any engineer to have at home, both to improve his knowledge and to have examples to use for training and publications. I encourage everyone to download it—you never know when the government is going to take it away!
Here is the link to download: www.itl.nist.gov/div898/handbook/