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Probably Not: Future Prediction Using Probability and Statistical Inference 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0470184011
ISBN-10: 0470184019
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Editorial Reviews


"The book is a very good tool for students and specialists in different areas who do not like advanced statistics, but are obliged to understand, a least partly, the process of decision making." (International Statistical Review, December 2008)

"The fact that Dworsky uses examples from many fields, and discusses topics not usually covered in beginning course, may also increase student interest in pursuing statistics at a more advanced level." (MAA Reviews, July 2008)

From the Back Cover

An engaging, entertaining, and informative introduction to probability and prediction in our everyday lives

Although Probably Not deals with probability and statistics, it is not heavily mathematical and is not filled with complex derivations, proofs, and theoretical problem sets. This book unveils the world of statistics through questions such as what is known based upon the information at hand and what can be expected to happen. While learning essential concepts including "the confidence factor" and "random walks," readers will be entertained and intrigued as they move from chapter to chapter. Moreover, the author provides a foundation of basic principles to guide decision making in almost all facets of life including playing games, developing winning business strategies, and managing personal finances.

Much of the book is organized around easy-to-follow examples that address common, everyday issues such as:

  • How travel time is affected by congestion, driving speed, and traffic lights

  • Why different gambling casino strategies ultimately offer players no advantage

  • How to estimate how many different birds of one species are seen on a walk through the woods

Seemingly random events—coin flip games, the Central Limit Theorem, binomial distributions and Poisson distributions, Parrando's Paradox, and Benford's Law—are addressed and treated through key concepts and methods in probability. In addition, fun-to-solve problems including "the shared birthday" and "the prize behind door number one, two, or three" are found throughout the book, which allow readers to test and practice their new probability skills. Requiring little background knowledge of mathematics, readers will gain a greater understanding of the many daily activities and events that involve random processes and statistics.

Combining the mathematics of probability with real-world examples, Probably Not is an ideal reference for practitioners and students who would like to learn more about the role of probability and statistics in everyday decision making.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Interscience; 1 edition (April 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470184019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470184011
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,643,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David J. Aldous on November 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Written in what I call the "textbook lite" style, intermediate between college texts teaching one to do math probability calculations in systematic detail, and the "popular science" style with words but no math. The contents might be put into 4 categories.

(1) Initial chapters give clear and unhurried explanations (illustrated by graphs and tables) of the basic math surrounding probability distributions, averages and standard deviations, and how the Normal distribution arises in dice-throwing or random walk.

(2) Scattered throughout the book are the classics of elementary math probability: the Binomial and Poisson distributions; conditional probability; Bayes rule illustrated by medical diagnosis; the birthday problem; Monte Hall; Benford's law and Simpson's paradox; gamblers ruin; analysis of games such as double-up-when-you-lose, and the Deal-or-no-Deal TV show.

(3) "Popular science" topics such as social networks, stock markets, statistical mechanics, deterministic chaos.

The preceding material is presented in a clear and readable way, though not markedly distinct from many previous books of varying styles, for instance (in the same "textbook lite" style) Probabilities: The Little Numbers That Rule Our Lives or Chance: The Life of Games & the Game of Life.
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Probably Not: Future Prediction Using Probability and Statistical Inference
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