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A First Course in Probability (8th Edition) Hardcover – January 7, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0136033134 ISBN-10: 013603313X Edition: 8th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall; 8th edition (January 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 013603313X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0136033134
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sheldon M. Ross is a professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. in statistics at Stanford University in 1968. He has published many technical articles and textbooks in the areas of statistics and applied probability. Among his texts are A First Course in Probability, Introduction to Probability Models, Stochastic Processes, and Introductory Statistics. Professor Ross is the founding and continuing editor of the journal Probability in the Engineering and Informational Sciences, the Advisory Editor for International Journal of Quality Technology and Quantitative Management, and an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Bond Trading and Management.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and a recipient of the Humboldt US Senior Scientist Award.

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Customer Reviews

The concepts are very poorly explained.
If you do not have a good math background, this book is not recommended to you.
The examples don't help you do the problems.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Sojournalist on March 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rarely review items I don't find to be worthwhile, but in this case, I sense that I may have specific complaints that will help buyers with a choice to keep from making a mistake. Although this item does cover the territory, it does it in a way that doesn't leave much room for positive recommendation.

My overall impression of the book is that it's very well organized, logically develops the topic, and loses it completely in the details.

Primary drawbacks:
* very few illustrations
* teaches by example rather than exposition
* examples are lacking in that they skip steps and sometimes leave results in incomplete states.

The title of the book leads you to believe that a moderately-educated student, in any one of a number of fields including "soft sciences," could use this book to learn probability. I quote from the Preface; "This book is intended as an elementary introduction to the theory... for students in mathematics, statistics, engineering and the sciences (including... the social sciences, and management science)...." However, reality is quite a bit far afield from this ideal. If you aren't very comfortable with single- and multi-variable calculus, and don't have a course in formal logic or mathematical proof under your belt, you will find this material difficult to read and master.

Examples are initially, and throughout, extremely dense and take a great degree of mental effort to unpack. For instance, the very first example in Chapter 3 on Conditional Probability reads as follows: "A student is taking a one-hour time-limit makeup examination. Suppose the probability that the student will finish the exam in less than x hours is x/2, for all 0 <= x <= 1. Then given that the student is still working after .
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Chris A. Christopherson on November 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Let me preface this by saying that I'm basing my review on an older edition from my math major undergraduate days. I'm now working through the book for the second time after many years.

I do like this book. It's topic coverage is good. The order is logical. There are plenty of examples. However... to tell you the truth, I really don't know how I got through the class all those years ago with an A. I'm working through it now and I see some glaring weaknesses (in my opinion as a math instructor) in the book that would be quite frustrating for someone seeing this material for the first time. It's even frustrating for me on round two! I'll tell you right now, you need more "mathematical maturity" than a year of calculus, an intro to linear algebra, and an intro to differential equations will provide.

First, I do like that there are tons of examples. But I think they could have been picked and graded in difficulty a bit better. It seems to me they are a bit polar. Some are trivial, routine problems, which I do understand are necessary. But the rest are almost always the sorts of problems you can spend days pondering. The same applies to the problem sets. So you get this effect where several problems are as easy to think through and do as a routine beginning calculus or algebra problem. Then you hit this wall and a problem can take days of pondering. There really needs to be something in between. The "theoretical problems" are even worse. Almost all of them are quite complicated proofs. There needs to be some more routine proofs in there as well.

Second, Ross tends to give all those examples--which is fine--at the expense of a bit more thorough base explanation--which is not fine. There needs to be a bit more development thrown in there.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By big reader on February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a good introduction to the topic of probability, but only for mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists, engineers, and other mathematically adept people.

The book is not heavy on analysis, and does not require intensive knowledge of proofs or ability to compose proofs. The theoretical exercises are intriguing and very fun to work through. The exposition is clear and logically developed. Also, there are a variety of examples that make the topic seem even more interesting than it is. Thus, there are many reasons why this book is in its 8th edition.

Having said this, though, a caveat is that the reader needs a solid math background to appreciate it. This is not a book for a social science or even a non-mathematically adept econ student. It is possible to understand some to most of it without analysis and abstract algebra, but both are very helpful and are indispensable for appreciating the beauty of the book.

Some drawbacks are that there are no explanations, some of the counting problems are tedious and routine, and at times there is insufficient rigor. But all in all, it is a solid intro to probability - but only for the mathematically adept.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Souleymane Coulibaly on December 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At my school the pre-req for the class using this book is VECTOR CALCULUS. But, your experience will really depend on how the class is taught. If it is taught as a graduate class, you will need you need an introduction to analysis, including maturity in understanding and writing rigorous proofs. after taking the class and doing very well (after a long struggle), I have come to the conclusion that although it doesn't require Measure Theory, "elementary calculus" is not going to cut it. If this is your first course in Probability, you should have taken the following: Discrete Math(for first part of the book) , multi-variable Calculus , and a proof-based class(this will help you tremendously throughout the book). Also, know your infinite series!
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