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The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives Paperback – May 5 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 5 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307275175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307275172
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.2 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By G. Poirier TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 16 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just love books like this - especially when they're as well-written as this one. The author, a physicist, proceeds to show the reader how randomness plays a much greater role in everyday life than one might think. As he discusses the basics of probability and statistics, he provides wonderful illustrations from fields as wide-ranging as sports, medicine, psychology, the stock market, etc., etc. He does an excellent job in driving home the fact that the true probability of events is not intuitive. Perhaps because of this anti-intuitiveness, I had to read a few paragraphs more than once to allow the point being made to sink in. One enigma that is particularly well explained is the Monty Hall (Let's Make a Deal) problem. The writing style is clear, accessible, very friendly, quite authoritative, engaging and often very witty. This book can be enjoyed by absolutely everyone, but I suspect that math and science buffs will savor it the most. By the way, the math-phobic need not fear: the book does not contain a single mathematical formula.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore on May 5 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book very much as it challenged and sharpened my ability to reason. Forget Luminosity, get your brain cells humming by reading this book. I had to go back a re-read most chapters to really allow the logic to sink in and be able to explain it to others.
This book may be easier if you had some basic understanding of statistical fundamentals, but a good grasp of problem solving would suffice.
I recommend this for anyone who wants to improve their ability to recognize "junk" stats from sound reasoning.

Love the OJ example!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Gordon on June 17 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Coincidently, a few days after reading this book, in Jan 2009, the Nebraska Pick 3 Lottery had the same 3 numbers (out of 9) drawn in the exact same sequence two days in a row. The newspapers reported that this was a 'one in a million' chance. I attempted to use Pascal's triangle to calculate whether or not this was true and, not surprisingly, got stumped. My 'gut' said that no, this was much less than a 'one in a million chance'. So I did what any math geek (my words) would do and that was to email Professor Mlodinow (he included his email address in the jacket cover). Within a few days, he responded and confirmed my gut feeling. In fact, picking the winning combination the FIRST time was a one in a million chance but picking it again, was only a one in 1000 chance. It confirmed the basic premise of the book which is that things we think are random, may not be....just do the math.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 14 2009
Format: Hardcover
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"I have tried in this book to present the basic concepts of randomness, to illustrate how they apply to human affairs, and to present my views that its effects are largely overlooked in our interpretations of events and in our expectations and decisions. It may come as an epiphany merely to recognize the ubiquitous role of random processes [including chance and uncertainty] in our lives; the true power of the theory of random processes, however, lies in the fact that once we understand the nature of random processes, we can alter the way we perceive the events that happen around us."

The above is found in this revealing, engaging, and readable book by Leonard Mlodinow, PhD (physics) who now teaches about randomness to future scientists at the California Institute of Technology. (He also co-authored with Dr. Stephen Hawking the book "A Briefer History of Time.")

This book's title comes from a mathematical term describing random motion (such as the paths molecules follow as they fly through space, bumping and being bumped by, their sister molecules).

All chapters are meant to lead up to the book' final chapter (that has the same title as the book's title). Generally, the beginning chapters look in a historical context at basic but important concepts in probability theory and statistical inference.

(Probability is a numerical value that measures, estimates, or predicts the degree of uncertainty in which an event will occur. Statistical inference {also called inductive statistics} deals with inferences about a population based on a sample {that is, based on limited data} of that population.
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By Ben on July 5 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great read, although not in def enough for me.
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By Wixit TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 2 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've listing to this book 3 times... Brilliant!

If you are interested in probability and randomness this is the book for you. In detail examples are illustrated for you to witness how randomness affects our lives.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clearly and completely explains how little control we have over events in our lives. The author writes in an entertaining fashion with many good examples in addition to the technical and historical background of this topic..
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book nudges us along the way. There is no guarantee it will make us smarter or more successful, but it might just be one of those events in our lives we will look back on considering it to have been significant. .
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