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Duelling Idiots and Other Probability Puzzlers (Princeton Puzzlers)by Paul J. Nahin
Synopses & ReviewsPublisher Comments:What are your chances of dying on your next flight, being called for jury duty, or winning the lottery? We all encounter probability problems in our everyday lives. In this collection of twentyone puzzles, Paul Nahin challenges us to think creatively about the laws of probability as they apply in playful, sometimes deceptive, ways to a fascinating array of speculative situations. Games of Russian roulette, problems involving the accumulation of insects on flypaper, and strategies for determining the odds of the underdog winning the World Series all reveal intriguing dimensions to the workings of probability. Over the years, Nahin, a veteran writer and teacher of the subject, has collected these and other favorite puzzles designed to instruct and entertain math enthusiasts of all backgrounds.
If idiots A and B alternately take aim at each other with a sixshot revolver containing one bullet, what is the probability idiot A will win? What are the chances it will snow on your birthday in any given year? How can researchers use coin flipping and the laws of probability to obtain honest answers to embarrassing survey questions? The solutions are presented here in detail, and many contain a profound element of surprise. And some puzzles are beautiful illustrations of basic mathematical concepts: "The Blind Spider and the Fly," for example, is a clever variation of a "random walk" problem, and "Duelling Idiots" and "The Underdog and the World Series" are straightforward introductions to binomial distributions.
Written in an informal way and containing a plethora of interesting historical material, Duelling Idiots is ideal for those who are fascinated by mathematics and the role it plays in everyday life and in our imaginations. Synopsis:"For those of us who thoroughly enjoy a good puzzle, Duelling Idiots is indeed a welcome book. What Paul Nahin offers is essentially the mathematical equivalent of a collection of Far Side cartoons: a series of quirky vignettes, each with an amusing punchline that reveals something new about an offbeat aspect of reality."Mark Denny, Stanford University
"Duelling Idiots and Other Probability Puzzlers seeks to teach the fundamentals of elementary probability theory using topics that are familiar to most everyone. Its lighthearted way of explaining serious subjects is a refreshing approach."Robert B. Banks, author of Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes and of Slicing Pizzas, Racing Turtles Synopsis:What are your chances of dying on your next flight, being called for jury duty, or winning the lottery? We all encounter probability problems in our everyday lives. In this collection of twentyone puzzles, Paul Nahin challenges us to think creatively about the laws of probability as they apply in playful, sometimes deceptive, ways to a fascinating array of speculative situations. Games of Russian roulette, problems involving the accumulation of insects on flypaper, and strategies for determining the odds of the underdog winning the World Series all reveal intriguing dimensions to the workings of probability. Over the years, Nahin, a veteran writer and teacher of the subject, has collected these and other favorite puzzles designed to instruct and entertain math enthusiasts of all backgrounds.
If idiots A and B alternately take aim at each other with a sixshot revolver containing one bullet, what is the probability idiot A will win? What are the chances it will snow on your birthday in any given year? How can researchers use coin flipping and the laws of probability to obtain honest answers to embarrassing survey questions? The solutions are presented here in detail, and many contain a profound element of surprise. And some puzzles are beautiful illustrations of basic mathematical concepts: "The Blind Spider and the Fly," for example, is a clever variation of a "random walk" problem, and "Duelling Idiots" and "The Underdog and the World Series" are straightforward introductions to binomial distributions. Written in an informal way and containing a plethora of interesting historical material, Duelling Idiots is ideal for those who are fascinated by mathematics and the role it plays in everyday life and in our imaginations. About the AuthorPaul J. Nahin is the bestselling author of many popular math books, including Mrs. Perkins's Electric Quilt, Digital Dice, Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula, When Least Is Best, and An Imaginary Tale (all Princeton). He is professor emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments ix
Preface xi Introduction 3 The Problems 15 1. How to ask an Embarrassing question 15 2. When Idiots duel 16 3. Will the light Bulb glow? 22 4. Tho Underdog and the World Series 26 5. The Curious Case of the Snowy Birthdays 27 6. When Human Flesh Begins to Fail 34 7. Baseball Again, and Mortal Flesh Too 51 8. Ball Madness 56 9. Who Pays for the Coffee? 42 10. The Chess Champ versus the Gunslinger 45 11. A Different Slice of Probabilistic Pi 49 12. When Negativity is a NoNo 50 15. The Power of Randomness 51 14. The Random Radio 52 15. An Inconceivable Difficulty 55 16. The Unsinkable Tub is Sinking! How to Find Her, Fast 57 17. A Walk in the Garden 58 18. Two Flies Stuck on a Piece of FlypaperHow Far Apart? 61 19.The Blind Spider and the Fly 62 20. Reliably Unreliable 68 21. When Theory Fails, There is always the Computer 71 The Solutions 81 Random Number Generators 176 "Some things Just Have to be Done By Hand!" 198 MATLAB Programs 202 Index 267 About the Author 271 What Our Readers Are SayingBe the first to add a comment for a chance to win!Product Details
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