Probability and the Real World

To readers

What aspects of the real world involve chance? What does mathematical probability tell about about those aspects? What concepts from mathematical probability can be illustrated by interesting contemporary real data? This web site records my efforts to articulate some answers to such questions. It is aimed at readers who have either read some "popular science" style account of probability, or taken a college course involving probability. So I won't explain very basic stuff, and I mostly avoid discussing material easily found elsewhere. Similarly non-technical but more statistics-oriented articles can be found on two other web sites: Understanding Uncertainty and Chance News.

Let me emphasize that I am not promoting any grandiose theory. The central content is

and you could now go there and browse those in any order. Another way to get started is to read A central theme is what I poetically call which is my attempt at explaining the breadth of the subject -- what are all the contexts where we perceive chance?

Also relevant:

To instructors

Complementary to (and in places more mathematical than) these topics pages, there is material from my U.C. Berkeley course which consisted of 20 lectures on different topics. Here is a write-up of some lectures from the 2014 course. For instructors considering teaching some similar course, there is extensive material at the course web site, in particular lecture slides from the (final) course in 2017. Amongst this material is And as a postscript, some rather argumentative reflections on the relationship between mathematical probability and the real world.