IMS Bulletin Vol 44 () « IMS BulletinW hy is it that incredibly unlikely phenomena actually happen quite regularly and why should we, in fact, expect such things to happen? Here, in this highly original book — aimed squarely at anyone with an interest in coincidences, probability or gambling — eminent statistician David Hand answers this question by weaving together various strands of probability into a unified explanation, which he calls the improbability principle. T his is a book that will appeal not only to those who love stories about startling coincidences and extraordinarily rare events, but also to those who are interested in how a single bold idea links areas as diverse as gambling, the weather, airline disasters and creative writing as well as the origin of life and even the universe. In my experience, it is very rare to find a book that is both erudite and entertaining. Surely this cannot be due to chance alone! Hand, it was perhaps inevitable that it would be a certain winner!
IMS Bulletin Vol 44 (2015)
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Over the years I have learned a fair amount about statistics and have used statistical methods in my management research and engineering practice. A few sections of the book would be hard slogging for those without basic statistical knowledge, but the author provides helpful examples and warns readers when they might want to skip ahead a few paragraphs. Some of the tough material has been moved to appendixes for the intrepid. The basic principle is that if there are enough opportunities for something improbable to occur, it will probably happen, sooner or later. Nothing earth-shaking about that. Our common-sense ways of thinking about and talking about probability are not so clear when we look more closely. We need to be careful about definitions and meaning.
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Professor David J. Imperial College, London. Chief Scientific Advisor. Winton Capital Management. He was awarded the George Box Medal in In he was made OBE for services to research and innovation. For some interviews and articles about my work see:.