#### STAT 157: Seminar on Topics in Probability and Statistics

## Probability and the Real World (Spring 2016)

**NEWS**
(1/22)
**The class is now completely full**.
If you have not already contacted me to do the pre-quiz
then you cannot be admitted.

**Instructor:** David Aldous

**GSI** None.

** Class time:** MW 4.00-5.30 in room 9 Evans.

** Prerequisite:** Upper division probability (STAT 134 or
equivalent).
The course emphasizes
**student participation and initiative**
while offering students the opportunity to
**pursue intellectual curiosity** in directions of their
individual choice.

Courses in mathematical probability teach you to do certain mathematical
calculations, but these
are often far removed from broader questions about the the role of
randomness
in the "real world" of science or of human affairs.
In contrast, this junior/senior seminar course seeks to engage
such questions in two ways.

**1.** In lectures I will treat about 20 different topics, one each lecture, chosen to illustrate the
diversity of contexts where probability arises.
Some idea of this diversity
can be gleaned from my
list of 100 contexts where we perceive chance.

**2.** A recurrent theme is to
adopt a classical science
paradigm: can we use probability theory to make predictions about the real
world which can be verified or falsified by experiment or observation?

Here are the requirements for students are (see the link
below for more info).

- To attend class (attendance will be taken)
- To do a (small) reading/talk project (talks start February 10 -- 3 weeks after first class).
- To do a (big) course project.

There are no other homeworks or exams.
There is no course textbook, but to get into the spirit of the course it's
helpful to read one of the ``popular science" books on the
book list.
** Read here for more about administration and deadlines.
**

### Resources for projects

This page is a guide to online resources which may be helpful in
choosing projects. It's intended for online browsing.
## Class-by-class schedule

The link below go to slides of the lectures, which will be posted after the lecture.
The link here goes to
extended write-ups of about half of the lectures.
The link here goes to links, books and papers mentioned in lectures --
implicit suggestions for further reading.

W 1/20: Lecture 1:
Everyday perception of chance.

M 1/25: Lecture 2:
The Kelly criterion for favorable games: stock market investing for individuals.

W 1/27: Lecture 3: Sports rating models.

M 2/1: Lecture 4: Risk to Individuals: perception and reality.

W 2/3: Lecture 5: Short and Medium term predictions
and risks in politics and economics.

M 2/8: Lecture 6: Coincidences, near misses and
one-in-a-million chances.

W 2/10 : Student talks

M 2/15: no class

W 2/17: Student talks

M 2/22: Student talks