Thursday, June 4, 2009

Math Lit

I've recently begun reading The Drunkard’s Walk. The sub-title of this book is “How Randomness Rules Our Lives.” It’s written by Leonard Mlodinow. So, what are the chances that, during the week that I am getting some co-teaching help from a high-school colleague, for my probability unit, that Frank would buy a popular book on … probability? Hmmm…
So far I have read chapter one, and it is very accessible and entertaining. One of the most interesting segments looks at the brain actions that govern how humans process uncertainty, and how rats can out perform humans in predicting certain probability results. As a teacher I enjoyed the discussion on the value of positive and negative reinforcement. And of course I was encouraged by the rundown of all the successful authors who had their work rejected many time before achieving spectacular results: John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, Tony Hillerman and others. The author concludes, “successful people in every field are almost always members of a certain set – the set of people who don’t give up.”
Subsequent chapters involve, “basic principles of probability and how they are abused,” and “the meaning and lack of meaning in measurements.”
Flipping ahead in the book I got a good laugh from the line graph showing synchronous results from the “number of years that 300 fund managers performed in the top 50%, and the number of correct calls of 10 coin flips by 300 students.” I can’t wait till Frank is finished with his book and I can read the rest.

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