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Ten Great Ideas about Chance


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Table of Contents

Preface ix Acknowledgments xi 1 Measurement 1 2 Judgment 22 3 Psychology 48 4 Frequency 62 5 Mathematics 79 6 Inverse Inference 100 7 Unification 122 8 Algorithmic Randomness 145 9 Physical Chance 165 10 Induction 190 Appendix: Probability Tutorial 209 Notes 225 Annotated Select Bibliography 239 Image Credits 247 Index 249

About the Author

Persi Diaconis is the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University and the coauthor of Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks (Princeton). Brian Skyrms is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Logic and Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, and Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. His books include From Zeno to Arbitrage.


"Ten Great Ideas about Chance isn't just about 18th century philosophical arguments, World War II events or tests of expensive, hard-to-pronounce drugs. The book's ideas are as down to earth and as current as your busted bracket for NCAA Men's Basketball." * Herald Business Journal *
"To anyone with an interest in probability or statistics, this is a book you must read. . . . [It] is far-ranging and can be read at many levels, from the novice to the expert. It is also thoroughly engaging, written in a conversational style with many examples and asides and an emphasis throughout on the people who have built the theory."---David M. Bressoud, UMAP Journal
"A historical and philosophical tour of major insights in the development of probability theory."---James Ryerson, New York Times Book Review
"A terrific book. The authors explain 10 great ideas in probability, starting from their history and pursuing their philosophical implications."---Eric S. Rosenthal, Mathematics Magazine
"Mathematically rigorous, yet also reasonably accessible; informative, yet fun and entertaining to read. Both students and faculty should find reading this to be a rewarding experience." * MAA Reviews *
"A great book for anyone who wants to understand some of the central tenets of probability, how they were discovered, and how they can be tamed in our day-to-day lives." * ZME Science *
"This book will not increase your odds of winning at games of chance, but it will give you some greater understanding of why you lose." * Cosmos *
"The audience is quite specific, but for them it will be a gem. . . . I would recommend this to any student studying or having studied anything statistics related at university."---Jonathan Shock, Mathemafrica
"A very enriching journey. Your vision will be broadened assimilating all these issues and solutions as well as open problems from the early history of probability, game theory, financial markets, politics, thermodynamics, quantum theory and much much more."---Adhemar Bultheel, European Mathematical Society
"A volume that should be on every scientist's reading list."---Barbara Kiser, Nature

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