A collection of stimulating probability puzzles from bestselling math writer Paul Nahin
What are the chances of a game-show contestant finding a chicken in a box? Is the Hanukkah dreidel a fair game? Will you be alive ten years from now? These are some of the one-of-a-kind probability puzzles that popular math writer Paul Nahin offers in this lively and informative book. Nahin brings probability to life with colorful historical anecdotes and a unique puzzle-solving approach that illustrates many of the techniques mathematicians use to grapple with probability. He looks at classic puzzlesfrom Galileo's dice-tossing problem to a disarming dice puzzle that would have astonished even Newtonand presents a dozen challenge problems and twenty-five probability puzzlers. With wit and insight, Nahin demonstrates why seemingly simple probability problems can stump even the experts.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Paul J. Nahin is the author of many popular math books, including How to Fall Slower Than Gravity, In Praise of Simple Physics, and An Imaginary Tale (all Princeton). He is professor emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire.
Table of Contents
Preface xvIntroduction: Classic Puzzles from the Past 1I.1 A Gambling Puzzle of Gombaud and Pascal 1I.2 Galileo's Dice Problem 3I.3 Another Gombaud-Pascal Puzzle 4I.4 Gambler's Ruin and De Moivre 6I.5 Monte Carlo Simulation of Gambler's Ruin 10I.6 Newton's Probability Problem 13I.7 A Dice Problem That Would Have Surprised Newton 17I.8 A Coin-Flipping Problem 18I.9 Simpson's Paradox, Radio-Direction Finding, and the Spaghetti Problem 21Challenge Problems 301Breaking Sticks 361.1 The Problem 361.2 Theoretical Analysis 361.3 Computer Simulation 382The Twins 422.1 The Problem 422.2 Theoretical Analysis 432.3 Computer Simulation 443Steve's Elevator Problem 473.1 The Problem 473.2 Theoretical Analysis by Shane Henderson 483.3 Computer Simulation 514Three Gambling Problems Newton Would "Probably" Have Liked 524.1 The Problems 524.2 Theoretical Analysis 1 544.3 Computer Simulation 1 554.4 Theoretical Analysis 2 574.5 Computer Simulation 2 584.6 Theoretical Analysis 3 595Big QuotientsPart 1 625.1 The Problem 625.2 Theoretical Analysis 625.3 Computer Simulation 646Two Ways to Proofread 666.1 The Problem 666.2 Theoretical Analysis 677Chain Letters That Never End 707.1 The Problem 707.2 Theoretical Analysis 708Bingo Befuddlement 748.1 The Problem 748.2 Computer Simulation 759Is Dreidel Fair? 799.1 The Problem 799.2 Computer Simulation 8010Hollywood Thrills 8310.1 The Problem 8310.2 Theoretical Analysis 8311The Problem of the n-Liars 8711.1 The Problem 8711.2 Theoretical Analysis 8711.3 Computer Simulation 8912The Inconvenience of a Law 9012.1 The Problem 9012.2 Theoretical Analysis 9013A Puzzle for When the Super Bowl is a Blowout 9313.1 The Problem 9313.2 Theoretical Analysis 9414Darts and Ballistic Missiles 9614.1 The Problem 9614.2 Theoretical Analysis 9715Blood Testing 10315.1 The Problem 10315.2 Theoretical Analysis 10316Big QuotientsPart 2 10716.1 The Problem 10716.2 Theoretical Analysis 10717To Test or Not to Test? 11717.1 The Problem 11717.2 Theoretical Analysis 11918Average Distances on a Square 12618.1 The Problem(s) 12618.2 Theoretical Analyses 12718.3 Computer Simulations 13619When Will the Last One Fail? 13919.1 The Problem 13919.2 Theoretical Analyses 14220Who's Ahead? 14720.1 The Problem 14720.2 Theoretical Analysis 14821Plum Pudding 15121.1 The Problem 15121.2 Computer Simulation 15221.3 Theoretical Analysis 15322Ping-Pong, Squash, and Difference Equations 15622.1 Ping-Pong Math 15622.2 Squash Math Is Harder! 16123Will You Be Alive 10 Years from Now? 16823.1 The Problem 16823.2 Theoretical Analysis 16924Chickens in Boxes 17624.1 The Problem (and Some Warm-ups, Too) 17624.2 Theoretical Analysis 18025Newcomb's Paradox 18325.1 Some History 18325.2 Decision Principles in Conflict 186Challenge Problem Solutions 189Technical Note on MATLAB®'s Random Number Generator 213Acknowledgments 217Index 219
What People are Saying About This
"The author's infectious enthusiasm is evident here. . . . Students at various levels and other fans of mathematics will find much to engage their interest and challenge their minds."G. A. Heuer, Mathematical Reviews
"Prolific mathematics author Nahin presents a series of thought-provoking probability questions designed to intrigue the reader."Choice
"A wonderful book for trained math lovers who enjoy the mental stimulation provided by a good mathematics puzzle."Harold D. Shane, Library Journal
"Genuinely captivating and surprising."Popular Science