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11TH PUBLIC BOOLE LECTURE - THE SEARCH FOR RANDOMNESS

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UCC

Lecture Theatre G05

Western Gateway Building

T12 XF62 Cork

Ireland

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ABOUT THE SPEAKER. At the age of 14 Diaconis dropped
out of school to become an apprentice to Canadian sleightof-
hand expert Dai Vernon. After frequenting casinos and
other venues where he perfected his skills in games of
chance, he returned to school without a high school diploma
intent on learning calculus in order to help him understand
the mathematical basis for calculating odds. Graduating from
City College of New York at the age of 26, he applied to
Harvard’s graduate program in mathematics and statistics.
He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1974. He started his
teaching career at Stanford University in 1974, becoming a
Professor of Statistics in 1981. In 1987 he returned to
Harvard to become the G. V. Leverett Professor of
Mathematics before moving in 1996 to Cornell, where he was
the David Duncan Professor of Mathematics. He has been
the Mary Sunseri Professor of Statistics and a Professor of
Mathematics at Stanford since 1998.
Diaconis is well known for his proof (in collaboration with
David Bayer of Columbia University) in 1992 that the random
ordering of a deck of cards requires seven riffle shuffles.
Much of his work continues to focus on everyday phenomena
of randomness. His Public Boole Lecture will examine these
phenomena and the extent to which they are actually
random.
(Source: Princeton University, Public Lectures, 2009-2010)
This

ABSTRACT OF LECTURE. I will take a careful look at our
most primitive images of random phenomena; tossing a
coin, rolling a roulette wheel, shuffling cards. In each case,
while things can be made suitably random, usually we are
lazy and a little math (coupled with experiments) shows
that things are not very random at all. This thinking hard
about our basic assumptions has consequences all over
the place: to the wild (mis)use of made up statistical
models and to the very notions of what counts as
evidence. I will try to speak about these 'in English' to a
general scientific audience.

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Location

UCC

Lecture Theatre G05

Western Gateway Building

T12 XF62 Cork

Ireland

View Map

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