Unexpected Expectations: The Curiosities of a Mathematical Crystal Ball explores how paradoxical challenges involving mathematical expectation often necessitate a reexamination of basic premises. The author takes you through mathematical paradoxes associated with seemingly straightforward applications of mathematical expectation and shows how these unexpected contradictions may push you to reconsider the legitimacy of the applications. The book requires only an understanding of basic algebraic operations and includes supplemental mathematical background in chapter appendices. After a history of probability theory, it introduces the basic laws of probability as well as the definition and applications of mathematical expectation/expected value (E). The remainder of the text covers unexpected results related to mathematical expectation, including: The roles of aversion and risk in rational decision making A class of expected value paradoxes referred to as envelope problems Parrondo’s paradox—how negative (losing) expectations can be combined to give a winning result Problems associated with imperfect recall Non-zero-sum games, such as the game of chicken and the prisoner’s dilemma Newcomb’s paradox—a great philosophical paradox of free will Benford’s law and its use in computer design and fraud detection While useful in areas as diverse as game theory, quantum mechanics, and forensic science, mathematical expectation generates paradoxes that frequently leave questions unanswered yet reveal interesting surprises. Encouraging you to embrace the mysteries of mathematics, this book helps you appreciate the applications of mathematical expectation, "a statistical crystal ball." Listen to an interview with the author on NewBooksinMath.com.
This annual anthology brings together the year's finest mathematics writing from around the world. Featuring promising new voices alongside some of the foremost names in the field, The Best Writing on Mathematics 2013 makes available to a wide audience many articles not easily found anywhere else--and you don't need to be a mathematician to enjoy them. These writings offer surprising insights into the nature, meaning, and practice of mathematics today. They delve into the history, philosophy, teaching, and everyday occurrences of math, and take readers behind the scenes of today's hottest mathematical debates. Here Philip Davis offers a panoramic view of mathematics in contemporary society; Terence Tao discusses aspects of universal mathematical laws in complex systems; Ian Stewart explains how in mathematics everything arises out of nothing; Erin Maloney and Sian Beilock consider the mathematical anxiety experienced by many students and suggest effective remedies; Elie Ayache argues that exchange prices reached in open market transactions transcend the common notion of probability; and much, much more. In addition to presenting the year's most memorable writings on mathematics, this must-have anthology includes a foreword by esteemed mathematical physicist Roger Penrose and an introduction by the editor, Mircea Pitici. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in where math has taken us--and where it is headed.