Do Dice Play God?: The Mathematics of Uncertainty

Do Dice Play God?: The Mathematics of Uncertainty

by Ian Stewart


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A celebrated mathematician explores how math helps us make sense of the unpredictable

We would like to believe we can know things for certain. We want to be able to figure out who will win an election, if the stock market will crash, or if a suspect definitely committed a crime. But the odds are not in our favor. Life is full of uncertainty — indeed, scientific advances indicate that the universe might be fundamentally inexact — and humans are terrible at guessing. When asked to predict the outcome of a chance event, we are almost always wrong.

Thankfully, there is hope. As award-winning mathematician Ian Stewart reveals, over the course of history, mathematics has given us some of the tools we need to better manage the uncertainty that pervades our lives. From forecasting, to medical research, to figuring out how to win Let's Make a Deal, Do Dice Play God? is a surprising and satisfying tour of what we can know, and what we never will.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541699472
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 151,093
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Ian Stewart is emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick. His recent books include Calculating the Cosmos, Significant Figures, In Pursuit of the Unknown, and Professor Stewart's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures. He is a fellow of the Royal Society. He lives in Coventry, UK

Table of Contents

1 Six Ages of Uncertainty 1

2 Reading the Entrails 14

3 Roll of the Dice 24

4 Toss of a Coin 33

5 Too Much Information 46

6 Fallacies and Paradoxes 65

7 Social Physics 80

8 How Certain are You? 94

9 Law and Disorder 108

10 Unpredicting the Predictable 121

11 The Weather Factory 137

12 Remedial Measures 161

13 Financial Fortune-Telling 174

14 Our Bayesian Brain 189

15 Quantum Uncertainty 206

16 Do Dice Play God? 223

17 Exploiting Uncertainty 248

18 Unknown Unknowns 262

Notes 267

Picture Credits 279

Index 280

Author Biography 293

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