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The Drunkard's Walk
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About the Author

Leonard Mlodinow has a Ph.D., has been a member of the faculty of the California Institute of Technology and a television writer in Hollywood, as well as developing many award winning CD-Roms. He is currently Vice President of Emerging Technologies and R&D at Scholastic Inc. and lives in New York City. His previous books include A Brief History of Time, which he co-authored, and Euclid's Window and Some Time with Feynman both published by Penguin.

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A "drunkard's walk" is a type of random statistical distribution with important applications in scientific studies ranging from biology to astronomy. Mlodinow, a visiting lecturer at Caltech and coauthor with Stephen Hawking of A Briefer History of Time, leads readers on a walk through the hills and valleys of randomness and how it directs our lives more than we realize. Mlodinow introduces important historical figures such as Bernoulli, Laplace and Pascal, emphasizing their ideas rather than their tumultuous private lives. Mlodinow defines such tricky concepts as regression to the mean and the law of large numbers, which should help readers as they navigate the daily deluge of election polls and new studies on how to live to 100. The author also carefully avoids veering off into the terra incognita of chaos theory aside from a brief mention of the famous "butterfly effect," although he might have spent a little more time on the equally famous n-body problem that led to chaos theory. Books on randomness and statistics line library shelves, but Mlodinow will help readers sort out Mark Twain's "damn lies" from meaningful statistics and the choices we face every day. (May 13) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

'Mlodinow writes in a breezy style, interspersing probabilistic mind-benders with portraits of theorists ! The result is a readable crash course in randomness.' New York Times 'If you're strong enough to have some of your favorite assumptions challenged, please read the Drunkard's Walk, a history, explanation, and exaltation of probability theory.' Fortune magazine

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