Results by Title
11 books about Probabilities

Bigger than Chaos
Michael Strevens
Harvard University Press, 2003
Library of Congress QC174.85.P76S77 2003  Dewey Decimal 003
Many complex systemsfrom immensely complicated ecosystems to minute assemblages of moleculessurprise us with their simple behavior. Consider, for instance, the snowflake, in which a great number of water molecules arrange themselves in patterns with sixway symmetry. How is it that molecules moving seemingly at random become organized according to the simple, sixfold rule? How do the comings, goings, meetings, and eatings of individual animals add up to the simple dynamics of ecosystem populations? More generally, how does complex and seemingly capricious microbehavior generate stable, predictable macrobehavior?
In this book, Michael Strevens aims to explain how simplicity can coexist with, indeed be caused by, the tangled interconnections between a complex system's many parts. At the center of Strevens's explanation is the notion of probability and, more particularly, probabilistic independence. By examining the foundations of statistical reasoning about complex systems such as gases, ecosystems, and certain social systems, Strevens provides an understanding of how simplicity emerges from complexity. Along the way, he draws lessons concerning the lowlevel explanation of highlevel phenomena and the basis for introducing probabilistic concepts into physical theory.
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The Broken Dice, and Other Mathematical Tales of Chance
Ivar Ekeland
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Library of Congress QA273.E4313 1993  Dewey Decimal 519.2
Ivar Ekeland extends his consideration of the catastrophe theory of the universe begun in his widely acclaimed Mathematics and the Unexpected, by drawing on rich literary sources, particularly the Norse saga of Saint Olaf, and such current topics as chaos theory, information theory, and particle physics.
"Ivar Ekeland gained a large and enthusiastic following with Mathematics and the Unexpected, a brilliant and charming exposition of fundamental new discoveries in the theory of dynamical systems. The Broken Dice continues the same theme, and in the same elegant, seemingly effortless style, but focuses more closely on the implications of those discoveries for the rest of human culture. What are chance and probability? How has our thinking about them been changed by the discovery of chaos? What are all of these concepts good for? . . . Ah, but, I mustn't give the game away, any more than I should if I were reviewing a detective novel. And this is just as gripping a tale. . . . Beg, borrow, or preferably buy a copy. . . . I guarantee you won't be disappointed."—Ian Stewart, Science
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CrossLevel Inference
Christopher H. Achen and W. Phillips Shively
University of Chicago Press, 1995
Library of Congress JA71.A26 1995  Dewey Decimal 320.01
In the last several years, new disputes have erupted over the use of group averages from census areas or voting districts to draw inferences about individual social behavior. Social scientists, policy analysts, and historians often have little choice about using this kind of data, but statistical analysis of them is fraught with pitfalls. The recent debates have led to a new menu of choices for the applied researcher. This volume explains why older methods like ecological regression so often fail, and it gives the most comprehensive treatment available of the promising new techniques for crosslevel inference.
Experts in statistical analysis of aggregate data, Christopher H. Achen and W. Philips Shively contend that crosslevel inference makes unusually strong demands on substantive knowledge, so that no one method, such as Goodman's ecological regression, will fit all situations. Criticizing Goodman's model and some recent attempts to replace it, the authors argue for a range of alternate techniques, including estensions of crosstabular, regression analysis, and unobservable variable estimators.
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Epistemology and Inference
Henry E. Kyburg, Jr.
University of Minnesota Press, 1983
Library of Congress BD161.K9 1983  Dewey Decimal 121
Epistemology and Inference was first published in 1983. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make longunavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Henry Kyburg has developed an original and important perspective on probabilistic and statistical inference. Unlike much contemporary writing by philosophers on these topics, Kyburg's work is informed by issues that have arisen in statistical theory and practice as well as issues familiar to professional philosophers. In two major books and many articles, Kyberg has elaborated his technical proposals and explained their ramifications for epistemology, decisionmaking, and scientific inquiry. In this collection of published and unpublished essays, Kyburg presents his novel ideas and their applications in a manner that makes them accessible to philosophers and provides specialists in probability and induction with a concise exposition of his system.
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Observation and Experiment
Paul R. Rosenbaum
Harvard University Press, 2017
Library of Congress Q175.32.C38R67 2017  Dewey Decimal 001.4340151954
In the face of conflicting claims about some treatments, behaviors, and policies, the question arises: What is the most scientifically rigorous way to draw conclusions about cause and effect in the study of humans? In this introduction to causal inference, Paul Rosenbaum explains key concepts and methods through realworld examples.
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A Philosophical Introduction to Probability
Maria Carla Galavotti
CSLI, 2005
Library of Congress BC141.G35 2005  Dewey Decimal 121.63
Not limited to merely mathematics, probability has a rich and controversial philosophical aspect. A Philosophical Introduction to Probability showcases lesserknown philosophical notions of probability and explores the debate over their interpretations. Galavotti traces the history of probability and its mathematical properties and then discusses various philosophical positions on probability, from the Pierre Simon de Laplace's “classical” interpretation of probability to the logical interpretation proposed by John Maynard Keynes. This book is a valuable resource for students in philosophy and mathematics and all readers interested in notions of probability.
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A Primer of Probability Logic
Ernest W. Adams
CSLI, 1996
Library of Congress QA10.A34 1998  Dewey Decimal 511.3
This book is meant to be a primer, that is, an introduction, to probability logic, a subject that appears to be in its infancy. Probability logic is a subject envisioned by Hans Reichenbach and largely created by Adams. It treats conditionals as bearers of conditional probabilities and discusses an appropriate sense of validity for arguments such conditionals, as well as ordinary statements as premisses.
This is a clear wellwritten text on the subject of probability logic, suitable for advanced undergraduates or graduates, but also of interest to professional philosophers. There are wellthoughtout exercises, and a number of advanced topics treated in appendices, while some are brought up in exercises and some are alluded to only in footnotes. By this means, it is hoped that the reader will at least be made aware of most of the important ramifications of the subject and its tieins with current research, and will have some indications concerning recent and relevant literature.
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Profiles, Probabilities, and Stereotypes
Frederick F Schauer
Harvard University Press, 2003
Library of Congress HM1096.S34 2003  Dewey Decimal 303.385
This book employs a careful, rigorous, yet lively approach to the timely question of whether we can justly generalize about members of a group on the basis of statistical tendencies of that group. For instance, should a military academy exclude women because, on average, women are more sensitive to hazing than men? Should airlines force all pilots to retire at age sixty, even though most pilots at that age have excellent vision? Can all pit bulls be banned because of the aggressive characteristics of the breed? And, most controversially, should government and law enforcement use racial and ethnic profiling as a tool to fight crime and terrorism?
Frederick Schauer strives to analyze and resolve these prickly questions. When the law "thinks like an actuary"makes decisions about groups based on averagesthe public benefit can be enormous. On the other hand, profiling and stereotyping may lead to injustice. And many stereotypes are selffulfilling, while others are simply spurious. How, then, can we decide which stereotypes are accurate, which are distortions, which can be applied fairly, and which will result in unfair stigmatization?
These decisions must rely not only on statistical and empirical accuracy, but also on morality. Even statistically sound generalizations may sometimes have to yield to the demands of justice. But broad judgments are not always or even usually immoral, and we should not always dismiss them because of an instinctive aversion to stereotypes. As Schauer argues, there is good profiling and bad profiling. If we can effectively determine which is which, we stand to gain, not lose, a measure of justice.
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Randomness
Deborah J. BENNETT
Harvard University Press, 1998
Library of Congress QA273.15.B46 1998  Dewey Decimal 519.2
From the ancients' first readings of the innards of birds to your neighbor's last bout with the state lottery, humankind has put itself into the hands of chance. Today life itself may be at stake when probability comes into playin the chance of a false negative in a medical test, in the reliability of DNA findings as legal evidence, or in the likelihood of passing on a deadly congenital diseaseyet as few people as ever understand the odds. This book is aimed at the trouble with trying to learn about probability. A story of the misconceptions and difficulties civilization overcame in progressing toward probabilistic thinking, Randomness is also a skillful account of what makes the science of probability so daunting in our own day. To acquire a (correct) intuition of chance is not easy to begin with, and moving from an intuitive sense to a formal notion of probability presents further problems. Author Deborah Bennett traces the path this process takes in an individual trying to come to grips with concepts of uncertainty and fairness, and also charts the parallel path by which societies have developed ideas about chance. Why, from ancient to modern times, have people resorted to chance in making decisions? Is a decision made by random choice "fair"? What role has gambling played in our understanding of chance? Why do some individuals and societies refuse to accept randomness at all? If understanding randomness is so important to probabilistic thinking, why do the experts disagree about what it really is? And why are our intuitions about chance almost always dead wrong? Anyone who has puzzled over a probability conundrum is struck by the paradoxes and counterintuitive results that occur at a relatively simple level. Why this should be, and how it has been the case through the ages, for bumblers and brilliant mathematicians alike, is the entertaining and enlightening lesson of Randomness.
Table of Contents:
Chance Encounters Why Resort to Chance? When the Gods Played Dice Figuring the Odds Thought Games for Gamblers Chance or Necessity? Order in Apparent Chaos Wanted: Random Numbers Randomness as Uncertainty Paradoxes in Probability Notes Bibliography Index Reviews of this book: [A] sharp analysis of the way we assess probability in everyday life. Robert Winder, New Statesman & Society Reviews of this book: The great strength of this book is the way it uses history and even prehistory of probability to chart its present territory and cast light on its core point of contention: does true randomness exist in nature, or is it only a psychological artefact?...Bennett's text...is like a cafÃƒÂ© conversation between likable cognoscenti...nothing could more provoke and excite the reader. Simon Ings, New Scientist Reviews of this book: Chances are high that reading this book will clear up your misconceptions about randomness and probabilities. In this very entertaining little book, simply written but intended for careful readers, some of the most common mistakes people make about chance are carefully analyzed. While describing interesting aspects of the mathematics of probability, the author takes frequent detours into the history of humanity's understanding (and misunderstanding) of the laws of chance, touching on subjects as diverse as chance in decisionmaking and the fairness of those decisions, gambling and our intuitive understanding of chance, the likelihood of the extremely rare, the existence of true randomness and how computers have helped shape modern thinking about probabilities...An insightful chapter is "Chance or Necessity?" The question is very, very old (determinism versus chaos), and the answer is not clear even today. The author describes the problem beautifully: "Is random outcome completely determined, and random only by virtue of our ignorance of the most minute contributing factors?" Einstein grappled with this conundrum until his death and never ceased to combat the idea that God could conceivably throw dice...Whether welleducated in mathematics or not, people have always been fascinated by randomness and intrigued by the fundamental question of the real nature of randomness, of how you can tell randomness from something that is not. J.A. Rial, American Scientist Reviews of this book: [ Randomness] can most easily be described as a brief history of chance...I can cheerfully recommend it to anyone who is a total beginner when it comes to probability, what it means, why it is desperately puzzling, and what it can do for us despite that...It is fascinating to read about the pioneers of probability, such as Pierre Simon de Laplace with his "normal distribution"now more familiar as the notorious bell curveand Adolphe Quetelet, perhaps the first to realise that there are statistical patterns in human behaviour. And I applaud the blunt reminder that when it comes to the real world the 'normal' distribution is actually highly abnormal...My main criticism: it left me wanting more. A sequel, please. Ian Stewart, Times Higher Education Supplement Reviews of this book: Randomness, by mathematician Deborah J. Bennett, was obviously a labor of love. The result is an interesting book that combines a wellresearched, anecdotally presented survey of the history of chance, probability and randomness along with some elementary instruction in probability...It includes a wideranging and rich bibliography that reflects the passion of the author for the subject. Anybody interested in gaming, random numbers, the Monte Carlo method and so on will find nice anecdotal descriptions of these topics, together with detailed notes and references to the bibliography for more detailed study. It is a good book to have. Stephen Gasiorowicz, Physics Today Reviews of this book: The fact that randomness, agency, and holiness can readily displace each other in phenomenological explanations of human action is the central concern that might draw students of consciousness to Bennett's book. Bennett does an excellent job, explaining and drawing out the major questions that swirl around the randomnessagencyholiness issue. T. W. Draper, Journal of Consciousness Studies Reviews of this book: In this book, Bennett seeks to account for the centurieslong lapse between early uses of chance in decision making and the more technical studies of probability first undertaken in the seventeenth century. At the same time, she explores the confusions and misunderstandings about probability that persist today. She argues that the notion of randomness played a crucial role in inhibiting conceptual progress in probability and that it also accounts for presentday struggles to come to terms with the subject...Bennett's book is written in a lucid, engaging style and provides an entertaining introduction to some questions in probability. Patti Wilger Hunter, Isis Reviews of this book: This volume is exceptionally readable. It takes away much of the mystery of probability while adding to our sense of wonder.  WordtradeReviews of this book: In 1996 Charles Hailey and David Helfand reported their calculations of the odds of a commercial airliner being struck by a meteor, in response to speculation about TWA flight 800...They conclude that, in over 30 years of air travel, the probability that a commercial flight would have been hit by a meteor big enough to crash it is 1 in 10. This bit of probability trivia is an indication of human beings continuous struggle to understand probability and chance through the ages, and Deborah Bennett captures the fascination with numbers in this pocketsized volume. The book is filled with...gems. Skeptic Reviews of this book: Clearly, the computation of probabilities is not just an arid game...As Deborah Bennett shows in her excellent little book on the mathematics of chance, the concept has been controversial for thousands of years..[Her] cultured and accessible book goes a long way towards demystifying the science of probability and thereby offers the reader a useful variety of conceptual tools with which to probe the future and illuminate the present. Steven Poole, The Guardian Reviews of this book: [This book] examines randomness and several other notions that were critical to the historical development of probabilistic thinking and that also play an important role in any individual's understanding of the laws of chance. [It] addresses why, from ancient times to today, people have resorted to chance in making decisions; whether a decision made by random choice is a fair decision; how to figure the odds; what role gambling has played in understanding chance; whether extremely rare events are likely in the long run; why some societies and individuals reject randomness; whether true randomness exists; the view of randomness as uncertainty; why even experts disagree about the many meanings of randomness; and why probability is so counterintuitive. Journal of Economic Literature Reviews of this book: Mathematics is its own language, and sometimes it doesn't translate readily into other human tongues. But Bennett is brilliantly bilingual, well able to put mathematical concepts into clear, expressive English. Her topic is intrinsically fascinating, for who has not felt buffeted by random events, and who has not sought to see when the wheel of fortune may turn up good luck?...More than an intriguing exploration of a peculiarly fascinating part of mathematics, its coverage, ranging from ancient games of chance to modern probability mindgames, makes it comprehensive as well as compulsively readable. Patricia Monaghan, Booklist Reviews of this book: A clear and detailed examination of the role of pure chance, with fascinating historical asides. Kirkus Reviews Randomness explains probability and odds in an accessible way. This book puts risk and chance into perspective for the airline passenger and the lottery player alike. Henry Petroski, author of Invention by Design: How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing
A careful and wellwritten treatment of an intriguing subject. Donald Goldsmith, author of The Ultimate Einstein
Randomness tells us about chance by recalling the real history of probability and solving many of its engaging puzzles. Beginners will find themselves welcomed and well led. Frederick Mosteller, Harvard University
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Tychomancy
Michael Strevens
Harvard University Press, 2013
Library of Congress QC174.85.P76S74 2013  Dewey Decimal 003.1
Michael Strevens makes three claims about rules for inferring physical probability. They are reliable. They constitute a key part of the physical intuition that allows us to navigate the world safely in the absence of scientific knowledge. And they played a crucial role in scientific innovation, from statistical physics to natural selection.
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Unifying Political Methodology: The Likelihood Theory of Statistical Inference
Gary King
University of Michigan Press, 1998
Library of Congress JA71.K563 1998  Dewey Decimal 320.01
One of the hallmarks of the development of political science as a discipline has been the creation of new methodologies by scholars within the disciplinemethodologies that are wellsuited to the analysis of political data. Gary King has been a leader in the development of these new approaches to the analysis of political data. In his book, Unifying Political Methodology, King shows how the likelihood theory of inference offers a unified approach to statistical modeling for political research and thus enables us to better analyze the enormous amount of data political scientists have collected over the years. Newly reissued, this book is a landmark in the development of political methodology and continues to challenge scholars and spark controversy.
"Gary King's Unifying Political Methodology is at once an introduction to the likelihood theory of statistical inference and an evangelist's call for us to change our ways of doing political methodology. One need not accept the altar call to benefit enormously from the book, but the intellectual debate over the call for reformation is likely to be the enduring contribution of the work."
Charles Franklin, American Political Science Review
"King's book is one of the only existing books which deal with political methodology in a clear and consistent framework. The material in it is now and will continue to be essential reading for all serious students and researchers in political methodology." R. Michael Alvarez, California Institute of Technology
Gary King is Professor of Government, Harvard University. One of the leading thinkers in political methodology, he is the author of A Solution to the Ecological Inference Problem: Reconstructing Individual Behavior from Aggregate Data and other books and articles.
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