Bart K. Holland

What Are the Chances

An “enjoyable [and] painlessly instructive” guide to probability, full of examples drawn from daily life and history (The Skeptic).
Our lives are governed by chance. But what, exactly, is chance? In this book, statistician and storyteller Bart K. Holland takes us on a tour of the world of probability. Weaving together tales from real life?from the spread of the bubonic plague in medieval Europe and the number of Prussian cavalrymen kicked to death by their horses, through IQ test results and why you have to wait in line for rides at Disney World?Holland captures probability in action, and the everyday events that can profoundly affect our lives but are controlled by just one number.
As Holland explains, even chance events are governed by the laws of probability and follow regular patterns called statistical laws. He shows how such laws are successfully applied, with great benefit, in fields as diverse as the insurance industry, the legal system, medical research, aerospace engineering, and climatology. Whether you have only a distant recollection of high school algebra or use differential equations every day, this book offers enlightening and entertaining examples of the impact of chance.
“[An] excellent primer on probability . . . In a time when anecdote and panic seem to influence public policy more than objective analysis, Holland has provided a welcome reminder of the power of the analytical approach.” —Simon Singh, New Scientist
220 printed pages
Original publication
Publication year
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