The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day

The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day

by David J. Hand
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The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day by David J. Hand

In The Improbability Principle, the renowned statistician David J. Hand argues that extraordinarily rare events are anything but. In fact, they're commonplace. Not only that, we should all expect to experience a miracle roughly once every month.

But Hand is no believer in superstitions, prophecies, or the paranormal. His definition of "miracle" is thoroughly rational. No mystical or supernatural explanation is necessary to understand why someone is lucky enough to win the lottery twice, or is destined to be hit by lightning three times and still survive. All we need, Hand argues, is a firm grounding in a powerful set of laws: the laws of inevitability, of truly large numbers, of selection, of the probability lever, and of near enough.

Together, these constitute Hand's groundbreaking Improbability Principle. And together, they explain why we should not be so surprised to bump into a friend in a foreign country, or to come across the same unfamiliar word four times in one day. Hand wrestles with seemingly less explicable questions as well: what the Bible and Shakespeare have in common, why financial crashes are par for the course, and why lightning does strike the same place (and the same person) twice. Along the way, he teaches us how to use the Improbability Principle in our own lives—including how to cash in at a casino and how to recognize when a medicine is truly effective.

An irresistible adventure into the laws behind "chance" moments and a trusty guide for understanding the world and universe we live in, The Improbability Principle will transform how you think about serendipity and luck, whether it's in the world of business and finance or you're merely sitting in your backyard, tossing a ball into the air and wondering where it will land.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374175344
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 02/11/2014
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David J. Hand is an emeritus professor of mathematics and a senior research investigator at Imperial College London. He is the former president of the Royal Statistical Society and the chief scientific adviser to Winton Capital Management, one of Europe's most successful algorithmic-trading hedge funds. He is the author of seven books, including The Information Generation: How Data Rules Our World and Statistics: A Very Short Introduction, and has published more than three hundred scientific papers. Hand lives in London, England.

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The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ThatFryeGuy More than 1 year ago
Hand's analysis of the probability gap between the improbable and impossible is anything but dull.  In regards to finite math his work is interesting because of his fascination with naturally occurring improbabilities.  Although it would be a farce to call this work ground breaking, "The Improbability Principle" is at least a piece that is at the very least a simple book to tickle the intrigue of any mathematician. It's common sense to anyone who's taken basic finite mathematics that anything with a marginal chance of happening will eventually happen, albeit not so often; however the way that Hand introduces the principle of time allowing these "improbabilities" to occur, and that there is a natural order to their occurrences that drive them, that makes Hand's research impressively lucrative.  I'm compelled to give this book five stars because of how much of a nice read this is.  If I would score it less I would only bring it down to a fractional 4.5, possibly because of how Hand's writing just made me desire a little more mathematical analysis; but I understand that limiting the computation to favor composition is a greater business strategy.  Honestly the general masses would only want a book like that if it was their college textbook, but I digress.  Hand is a wonderful author, and a brilliant mathematician, and quite the scholar towards historical postulates.  I look forward to reading more of his work.