The Little Numbers That Rule Our Lives

Book - 2007
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What are the chances?

Find out in this entertaining exploration of probabilities in our everyday lives

"If there is anything you want to know, or remind yourself, about probabilities, then look no further than this comprehensive, yet wittily written and enjoyable, compendium of how to apply probability calculations in real-world situations."
--Keith Devlin, Stanford University, National Public Radio's "Math Guy" and author of The Math Gene and The Math Instinct

"A delightful guide to the sometimes counterintuitive discipline of probability. Olofsson points out major ideas here, explains classic puzzles there, and everywhere makes free use of witty vignettes to instruct and amuse."
--John Allen Paulos, Temple University, author of Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper

"Beautifully written, with fascinating examples and tidbits of information. Olofsson gently and persuasively shows us how to think clearly about the uncertainty that governs our lives."
--John Haigh, University of Sussex, author of Taking Chances: Winning with Probability

From probable improbabilities to regular irregularities, Probabilities: The Little Numbers That Rule Our Lives investigates the often-surprising effects of risk and chance in our everyday lives. With examples ranging from WWII espionage to the O. J. Simpson trial, from bridge to blackjack, from Julius Caesar to Jerry Seinfeld, the reader is taught how to think straight in a world of randomness and uncertainty.

Throughout the book, readers learn:
* Why it is not that surprising for someone to win the lottery twice
* How a faulty probability calculation forced an innocent woman to spend three years in prison
* How to place bets if you absolutely insist on gambling
* How a newspaper turned an opinion poll into one of the greatest election blunders in history

Educational, eloquent, and entertaining, Probabilities: The Little Numbers That Rule Our Lives is the ideal companion for anyone who wants to obtain a better understanding of the mathematics of chance.

Book News
Olofsson (applied probability, Tulane U.) takes on randomness and uncertainty with a healthy dose of reality as he explains why Jerry Seinfeld must buy 29 boxes of cereal, why placing bets is dumb but doing so without considering the laws of statistics is even dumber, and why the Swedish Olofsson keeps running into folks from his small hometown in Australia. He covers the right ways and wrong ways to compute probabilities, instances when intuition does not work, tiny probabilities and what they mean, backward probabilities, the unexpected, inevitable probabilities, gambling, guessing (enter the statistician), and faking probabilities through computer simulation. This is useful even to the general reader who has had it with trying to figure out what an "approval rating" really means. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley-Interscience, [2007]
Copyright Date: ©2007
ISBN: 9780470040010
Branch Call Number: 519.2 OLOFS
Characteristics: ix, 267 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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