O'Reilly logo

Probabilities: The Little Numbers That Rule Our Lives, 2nd Edition by Peter Olofsson

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

1

Computing Probabilities: Right Ways and Wrong Ways

THE PROBABILIST

Whether you like it or not, probabilities rule your life. If you have ever tried to make a living as a gambler, you are painfully aware of this, but even those of us with more mundane life stories are constantly affected by these little numbers. Some examples from daily life where probability calculations are involved are the determination of insurance premiums, the introduction of new medications on the market, opinion polls, weather forecasts, and DNA evidence in courts. Probabilities also rule who you are. Did daddy pass you the X or the Y chromosome? Did you inherit grandma's big nose? And on a more profound level, quantum physicists teach us that everything is governed by the laws of probability. They toss around terms like the Schrödinger wave equation and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which are much too difficult for most of us to understand, but one thing they do mean is that the fundamental laws of physics can only be stated in terms of probabilities. And the fact that Newton's deterministic laws of physics are still useful can also be attributed to results from the theory of probabilities. Meanwhile, in everyday life, many of us use probabilities in our language and say things like “I'm 99% certain” or “There is a one-in-a-million chance” or, when something unusual happens, ask the rhetorical question “What are the odds?”

Some of us make a living from probabilities, by developing new theory and ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required