Math on Trial and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $26.99
  • Save: $9.21 (34%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 9 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Math on Trial: How Number... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by -usedbooks123-
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Very Good used copy: Some light wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins. Text is clean and legible. Possible clean ex-library copy with their stickers and or stamps. We ship daily!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom Hardcover – March 12, 2013


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$17.78
$6.07 $4.99
Best%20Books%20of%202014


Frequently Bought Together

Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom + Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking
Price for both: $172.60

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465032923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465032921
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

BBC Focus (UK)
“[Math on Trial] has all the marks of a good mystery: tense conflicts, diverse characters and shock conclusions….Numerical errors are not unique to the courtroom: similar issues crop up elsewhere in life, which makes this book’s message all the more important. Gripping and insightful, it successfully highlights the dangers of carelessly sprinkling mathematics over real-world problems.”

Washington Independent Review of Books
“Schneps and Colmez’s clever use of headline-grabbing case studies and digestible explanations of mathematical problems combine to argue for the careful use of numbers by advocates and lay juries alike. Their warnings remain relevant today as courtrooms face greater use of DNA evidence and other sophisticated forensic technologies.”

MAA Reviews
“The authors shine, and the dramatic presentation [of the court cases] will grip many readers…. [Math on Trial] stimulates both thought and interest….Engaging reading.”

Publishers Weekly
“An entertaining tour of courtroom calculations gone wrong…. The cases they describe are independently interesting, and the mathematical overlay makes them doubly so…. As the problems are unraveled and the correct analyses explained, readers will enjoy a satisfying sense of discovery. Schneps and Colmez write with lucidity and an infectious enthusiasm, making this an engaging and unique blend of true crime and mathematics.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Fill[ed] with wonderful accounts of frauds and forgeries involving the likes of Charles Ponzi, Hetty Green and Alfred Dreyfus….the authors’ analysis of the recent Amanda Knox case [is] particularly chilling…. [Math on Trial is] intrinsically fascinating in its depiction of the frailty of human judgments.”

Steven Strogatz, Professor of Mathematics, Cornell University, and author of The Joy of x
“Taut and gripping, Math on Trial just might establish a new genre, in which true crime story meets the best of popular science. Utterly absorbing from start to finish.”

Michael Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan, authors of Chances Are…: Adventures in Probability and Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err Is Human
“The originator of sociology, Auguste Comte, said that applying probability to moral questions was the scandal of mathematics. Math On Trial charts the ambivalent—occasionally disastrous—role that math has played in several classic and some recent legal cases. It vividly shows how the desire for ‘scientific’ certainty can lead even well-meaning courts to commit grave injustice. There ought to be a copy in every jury room.”

About the Author

Leila Schneps studied mathematics at Harvard University and now holds a research position at the University of Paris, France. She has taught mathematics for nearly 30 years. Schneps’s daughter, Coralie Colmez, graduated with a First from Cambridge University in 2009, and now lives in London where she teaches and writes about mathematics. They both belong to the Bayes in Law Research Consortium, an international team devoted to improving the use of probability and statistics in criminal trials.

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

I read it straight through on a long flight.
G. Effler
So this example is presented in error in the text and the authors' reasoning (or the editor's review) is unfortunately quite incorrect.
M. Schaefer
In this captivating book, the authors recount ten legal cases, one per chapter, in which mathematics was used in some way.
G. Poirier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. Prince on September 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book tells the story of a number of legal cases where math was misused in some interesting way, usually by the prosecution. Such cases are often a rush to judgement by biased prosecutors who aren't thinking straight, and who make every effort to win their case without paying enough attention to their own flawed logic and to the actual evidence in the case.

The authors are good at telling interesting stories, and at explaining why the math used in a given case was wrong. But they are not legal experts or even historians, and this becomes obvious when they take up the Amanda Knox case. I doubt that very many people outside of the group convinced that Knox is guilty would find the authors' summary of the case to be accurate and unbiased. This was especially disappointing given that the book was published years after the initial onslaught of tabloid and police misinformation about the case.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By G. Poirier on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In this captivating book, the authors recount ten legal cases, one per chapter, in which mathematics was used in some way. Although this book was in the mathematics section of my bookstore, it would not be out of place in the true crime section. Each chapter begins with a page or two describing a type of "mathematical error" that commonly occurs; that error is illustrated through the real-life legal case that forms the main body of the chapter. These errors all pertain to the misunderstanding and resulting misapplication of certain mathematical concepts, the consequences of which are described. All of the mathematical errors presented in this book pertain to the field of probability and statistics. Finally, in the conclusion section of the book, the authors have included a general discussion on the use of mathematics in trials and the debate concerning the pros and cons of doing so.

The mathematical analyses in the cases that are presented only occupy a couple of pages of each chapter. These mostly involve words, logic, tables and some simple calculations; clear theoretical formulas are generally absent. And this leads me to the only characteristic of this book that I found a bit annoying: the lack of formulas and, in some cases, the lack of more detailed calculations to illustrate where a given number came from; these could have been simply included in footnotes. In some cases I found myself sidetracked by trying to derive how a certain number was arrived at.

But despite this minor shortcoming, I really enjoyed this book, in no small part because it illustrates the application of mathematics to real-life situations. The authors allude to the fact that they intend to write further books like this - on the use of mathematics in the courtroom; I really look forward to reading them! Hopefully they will be a bit heavier, in some way, on the theoretical side.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Schaefer on July 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Erica Ford is indeed correct in stating that the probability of having precisely 3 sixes in 6 rolls of a die is erroneously presented on page 190 of this book. Alas, she does not indicate what the correct computation and reasoning should be. So in the interest of aiding a reader not familiar with probability computations, perhaps this will help a little.

The likelihood of rolling exactly 3 sixes requires calculating the probability of exactly 3 of the tosses yielding a 6, and this is indeed (1/6)^3 or 1/216 and it needs to be multiplied by the probability of *not* rolling a 6 in the other 3 tosses, which is (5/6)^3 or 125/216 times the number of ways in which the 3 successes could be distributed over the 6 tosses, which is comb(6,3) which is 20 as the authors correctly note. So this computation produces a probability of 625/11664 or about 5.35837% . I decided to run a few simulations of 10 million such sequences of 6 tosses each, and on average 535633 of every 10 million such tosses (i.e., 5.35633% of the tosses) turned out to have exactly 3 sixes, pretty close to the theoretical probability.

The authors argue that the probability is about 1/10, which is about twice the theoretical likelihood of the event. So this example is presented in error in the text and the authors' reasoning (or the editor's review) is unfortunately quite incorrect. I thank Ms Ford for pointing this out to us.

I have not yet read the entire text, but have done some skimming, so my preliminary rating for this book is undoubtedly in need of revision and I anticipate doing this soon after I finish reading it.
7 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By R. R. Towle on March 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those who may be wondering, mathematical expertise is not needed to enjoy this delightful book. That is a good thing because the authors deliver an important message to anyone who has an interest in justice: math has played and will continue to play an increasingly decisive role in the courtroom. As this book clearly demonstrates, getting it wrong can convict the innocent or exonerate the guilty.

Given the book's weighty topic some might be surprised to hear it described as entertaining. I'm happy to report that the authors did a wonderful job selecting case studies that are fascinating with or without the role played by mathematics. Each of the ten cases has one or more elements of surprise, heartbreak, mystery, frustration, irony and even humor (depending on your proclivities). They are never dull. It's clear that the authors did extensive research and chose these cases with care.

Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to a specific kind of math "error". The error is described in simple language and illustrated with an easy to grasp real life example like the common occurrence of a shared birthday. The authors then show how the mathematical concept at hand was misused in the case under discussion.

One thing that I found particularly delightful (and disturbing) was how often these math concepts were counter-intuitive. It's easy to see how lawyers, judges, and prosecutors got things wrong. This simple fact makes a strong case that true expertise is needed to assist these critical players. And that is why this book is essential. If you are involved in the criminal justice system, please read this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews