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The jungles of randomness : a mathematical safari / Ivars Peterson
Bib ID 285550
Format BookBook
Author
Peterson, Ivars
 
Related Online
Resources
Description New York : John Wiley & Sons, c1998 
xiii, 239 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. 
ISBN 0471164496
Summary

Join acclaimed science writer Ivars Peterson on an adventurous trek through an exotic world of weird dice, fractal drums, firefly rhythms and chaotic amusement park rides, as he explores the wilds of randomness. A tricky, intriguing, even elusive concept, randomness affects our lives in an astonishing range of ways - from the fun of games we play and the noise that spoils the music we hear, to the ways viruses grow and atoms combine. Hidden rules and secret patterns lurk within apparently random events and chance encounters. How likely is it that a fair coin will land heads up ten times in a row? How often might you meet a stranger at a party who shares your birthday? Are there really ways to win at roulette or beat a slot machine? How does the gait of a horse differ from that of a cockroach? Peterson uncovers the answers to a rich array of such tantalizing questions, revealing the surprising, ambiguous boundaries between order and chaos.

Along the way we also meet a host of characters, both charming and eccentric, who either made striking discoveries about randomness or were profoundly affected by it. There's the case of Williard Longcor, a man gripped with a passion for throwing dice, who meticulously records the outcomes of millions of tosses and helps correct the theory of the distribution of runs. And there's the tragic case of the brilliant novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who became addicted to the random spin of the roulette wheel. The "wandering mathematician" Paul Erdos drops in with his famous greeting "my brain is open," and the visionary architect Buckminster Fuller remarks on the similarities between his geodesic domes and the structure of viruses. The Jungles of Randomness offers a delightful journey into the exciting world of mathematical discovery and imparts a rare vision of the fundamental playfulness of mathematics in our lives.

Full contents
  • Machine derived contents note: The Die Is Cast.
  • Sea of Life.
  • Shell Game.
  • Call of the Firefly.
  • Different Drums.
  • Noise Police.
  • Complete Chaos.
  • Trials of a Wanderer.
  • Gambling with Numbers.
  • Lifetimes of Chance.
 
Notes

Includes bibliographical references (p. 209-223) and index.

Subjects Probabilities -- Popular works.

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