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Leonard Mlodinow received his doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and now teaches about randomness to future scientists at Caltech. Along the way he also wrote for the television series MacGyver and Star Trek: The Next Generation. His previous books include Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace, Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life, and, with Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time. He lives in South Pasadena, California. From the Hardcover edition.
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."--The New York Times Book Review"A wonderfully readable guide to how the mathematical laws of randomness affect our lives."--Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time"[Mlodinow] thinks in equations but explains in anecdote, simile, and occasional bursts of neon. . . . The results are mind-bending."--Fortune"Even if you begin The Drunkard's Walk as a skeptic, by the time you reach the final pages, you will gain an understanding-if not acceptance-of the intuitively improbable ways that probability biases the outcomes of life's uncertainties."--Barron's"Delightfully entertaining."--Scientific American "A magnificent exploration of the role that chance plays in our lives. The probability is high that you will be entertained and enlightened by this intelligent charmer." --Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness"Mlodinow is the perfect guy to reveal the ways unrelated elements can relate and connect."--The Miami Herald"A primer on the science of probability."--The Washington Post Book World"Challenges our intuitions about probability and explores how, by understanding randomness, we can better grasp our world." --Seed Magazine"Mlodinow has an intimate perspective on randomness."--The Austin Chronicle