Summary:

"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 just some of the one-of-a-kind probability puzzles that acclaimed popular math writer Paul Nahin offers in this lively and informative book.Nahin brings probability to life with colorful and amusing historical anecdotes as well as an electrifying approach to solving puzzles that illustrates many of the techniques that mathematicians and scientists use to grapple with probability. He looks at classic puzzles from the past--from Galileo's dice-tossing problem to a disarming dice puzzle that would have astonished even Newton--and also includes a dozen challenge problems for you to tackle yourself, with complete solutions provided in the back of the book.Nahin then presents twenty-five unusual probability puzzlers that you aren't likely to find anywhere else, and which range in difficulty from ones that are easy but clever to others that are technically intricate. Each problem is accompanied by an entertaining discussion of its background and solution, and is backed up by theory and computer simulations whenever possible in order to show how theory and computer experimentation can often work together on probability questions. All the MATLAB Monte Carlo simulation codes needed to solve the problems computationally are included in the book. With his characteristic wit, audacity, and insight, Nahin demonstrates why seemingly simple probability problems can stump even the experts"--

Bibliography, etc. note:

Includes bibliographical references and index

Formatted contents note

Classic puzzles from the past. A gambling puzzle of Gombaud and Pascal ; Galileo's dice problem ; Another Gombaud-Pascal puzzle ; Gambler's Ruin and De Moivre ; Monte Carlo simulation of Gambler's Ruin ; Newton's probability problem ; A dice problem that would have surprised Newton ; A coin-flipping problem ; Simpson's Paradox, radio-direction finding, and the spaghetti problem

Challenge problems. Breaking sticks ; The twins ; Steve's elevator problem ; Three gambling problems Newton "probably" would have liked ; Big quotients : part 1 ; Two ways to proofread ; Chain letters that never end ; Bingo befuddlement ; Is dreidel fair? ; Hollywood thrills ; The problem of the n-Liars ; The inconvenience of a law ; A puzzle for when the Super Bowl is a blowout ; Darts and ballistic missiles ; Blood testing ; Big quotients : part 2 ; To test or not to test? ; Average distances on a square ; When will the last one fail? ; Who's ahead ; Plum pudding ; Ping-pong, squash, and difference equations ; Will you be alive 10 years from now? ; Chickens in boxes ; Newcomb's paradox

Challenge problem solutions

Technical note on MATLABĀ®'s Random Number Generator

Record created 2015-09-18, last modified 2015-09-23