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

In this course, different instructors treat very different topics. My topic is

## Probability and the Real World (Fall 2014)

**July 19: update re enrollment.**
This is a "consent of Instructor" course, limited to 35 students.
Admission will be based on performance on the "pre-quiz", below.
So far, 22 students have had the initiative to do the pre-quiz adequately,
and they have been admitted to the course.
Other students wishing to enrol should

(i) browse the links below to understand the general style of this course

(ii) answer this quiz, rather soon.

Every few weeks I will post status (is class full or not?) here.

**Instructor:** David Aldous

**T.A.** None.

** Class time:** MW 4.00-5.30 in room 334 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 links
below for more info).

- To attend class (attendance will be taken)
- To do a (small) reading/talk project (talks start Wednesday
24 September -- 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.

### Administration, deadlines etc

This page contains adminstrative info and I suggest you print it
out or bookmark it for future reference.
### Resources for projects

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

The page Plans/debriefing for each class
serves as a rough plan of future classes and a record of past classes.
### Data from in-class surveys (2011)

(8/25) What do you know (from outside the classroom)?
(8/25) Perceptions of some risks

(9/1) Based on the class consensus that the chance of President Obama being re-elected in 2012
is greater than 50%, I have bought 1 intrade shares at 49.6.
You can track its price fluctuations here.

(10/18) Results of the least integer game.

(11/15) Which classes did students like?