Past is a comprehensive data analysis tool

Read its official description, and Pass doesn’t seem to have much mainstream appeal. “Paleontological statistics software” covering “univariate and multivariate statistics, ecological analysis, time series and spatial analysis, morphometry and stratigraphy”. Oh good? Sip.

But even though it is aimed directly at data analysis experts, Past has some features that could be useful to almost anyone.

Past is completely free, no adware, no registration or other hassle, it doesn’t even need to be installed – just unzip and go.

A simple spreadsheet interface provides an easy way to enter data. You can also copy information from the clipboard or import a few file types (XLS, plain text, etc.).

The Summary Statistics report gives some basic details that even math phobics might find useful: min, max, sum, mean, standard error, standard deviation, etc.

The Plot menu provides access to a multitude of chart types, including XY, Histogram, Bar, Pie, Stacked, Percentiles, Bubble, 3D Cloud, Matrix, and Area.

All very simple to use. Select any data in your spreadsheet, choose the chart type and it displays immediately.

Most graphics also have a good range of customization options, and they can be saved as JPG, GIF, PNG, or even SVG for the best possible quality.

You get a few accessible extras, including a Google Maps feature (Windows only) that plots latitude and longitude columns with coordinates presented as points, filled polygons, or multi-segment lines.

And of course, if you’re a math whiz and really need Past’s high-end statistics tools, there’s plenty to explore.

We don’t have the place to start covering them here, but as an example, even the Univariate menu is full of all these options: Summary, One-Sample Tests, Two-Sample Tests, F and t Tests, Paired To two-sample test, ANOVA, etc., one-way ANCOVA, correlation, intraclass correlation, normality tests, contingency table, Mantel-Cochran-Haenszel test, risk/odds, single proportion test, multiple proportion CI, survival analysis , combined errors.

Pass is a free application for Windows 7 and later and OS X.

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