Fifty Challenging Problems in Probability with Solutions
Can you solve the problem of "The Unfair Subway"?Marvin gets off work at random times between 3 and 5 p.m. His mother lives uptown, his girlfriend downtown. He takes the first subway that comes in either direction and eats dinner with the one he is delivered to. His mother complains that he never comes to see her, but he says she has a 50-50 chance. He has had dinner with her twice in the last 20 working days. Explain.Marvin's adventures in probability are one of the fifty intriguing puzzles that illustrate both elementary ad advanced aspects of probability, each problem designed to challenge the mathematically inclined. From "The Flippant Juror" and "The Prisoner's Dilemma" to "The Cliffhanger" and "The Clumsy Chemist," they provide an ideal supplement for all who enjoy the stimulating fun of mathematics.Professor Frederick Mosteller, who teaches statistics at Harvard University, has chosen the problems for originality, general interest, or because they demonstrate valuable techniques. In addition, the problems are graded as to difficulty and many have considerable stature. Indeed, one has "enlivened the research lives of many excellent mathematicians." Detailed solutions are included. There is every probability you'll need at least a few of them.
A look at the essence of probability, at all levels
By Mary P. Campbell "math geek" - July 3, 2001
If Mosteller hadn't included the solutions, this would have been a short book indeed -- 56 problems simply stated in 14 pages. You'll soon find, however, that some problems, which are the shortest to set up, take a great deal of brainpower. It starts innocently enough - some simple-sounding problems on socks in drawers, flipping coins, and rolling dice. Soon enough, you end up with paper black with numbers and pictures of a flipping coin (how thick does a coin need to be so that it lands on its =side= with probability 1/3?) If you get drawn in deep (as I did), you may even wonder what probability really means.Some of the problems are classic, such as the problem of how many people would it take for the probability that at least two of them have the same birthday is greater than a half (I'll give this answer away: 23. But do you know why?) One of the dice problems actually recalls the history of the development of probability as a separate mathematical field -- problem #19,... read more
useful, effective fun
By mcnicely - February 1, 2002
Working through the colorful problems in this book is a great way to (re)learn and apply basic probability principles. There is a great deal of independence between problem so you are never quite sure how tough or easy the next one will be. On the other hand, several of the problems are clearly follow-ons that allow the exploration or expansion of some of the more interesting issues.Though I've worked through the problems a couple of times, I bought a replacement copy when my original was "permanently borrowed" from my desk at work.
I passed my PhD qualifier because of this book!
By UNPINGCO - June 12, 2000
Excellent selection of problems and very explanatory and detailed solutions. This gets to the ideas behind many of the popular methods in probability, like maximum likelihood. The concepts are given centerstage and provide insights on "how to think" about many problems in probability.
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