Packed with practical tips and techniques for solving probability problems
Increase your chances of acing that probability exam -- or winning at the casino!
Whether you're hitting the books for a probability or statistics course or hitting the tables at a casino, working out probabilities can be problematic. This book helps you even the odds. Using easy-to-understand explanations and examples, it demystifies probability -- and even offers savvy tips to boost your chances of gambling success!
Discover how to * Conquer combinations and permutations * Understand probability models from binomial to exponential * Make good decisions using probability * Play the odds in poker, roulette, and other games Reviews Overall, this is a good book that serves well as a very thorough introduction to probabilities and statistical distributions. The author covers a very large domain that is probably equivalent to at least one semester course at the college level. I was surprised at the number and complexity of statistical distributions covered and at the depth of the combination and permutation topics applications.
This book should fulfill the knowledge needs of most people needing such an introduction to probabilities. The author provides all the formulas and tools needed to deal with not only basic but also fairly advanced stuff (with statistical distributions the learning curve accelerates into the advanced domain readily).
As mentioned in the title of this review, the author is not as accurate as she should have been. Some errors are permissible. Other errors are less so. Among the permissible errors are the author's treatment of the famous birthday problems. I won't bore you with the technicalities others have already well specified. In any case, the author comes up with an elegant estimate of a solution to the birthday problem. But, it is not 100% accurate. The only error the author did here is to forget to mention this was an estimation and not an accurate solution. There are many well accepted estimations to the birthday problem and the author's is as reasonably accurate as any others (I have partly checked that).
Among the errors that are less permissible, right at the beginning of the book the author completely messes up what odds are. She states that odds is the inverse of a probability. It is not. The odds is either the probability of winning divided by the probability of losing (called Odds on) or the reverse (Odds against). Later in the book, she also bungles the Z distribution probability density function. Those are material errors that discredit the author.
So, there you have it. This is a good book overall, but watch out for some errors. If you study statistical distributions in depth I would double check every pmf or pdf formulas with another source such as Wikipedia.
If you want to build your mathematical foundation I also strongly recommend Forgotten Algebra, Forgotten Calculus, and Forgotten Statistics: A Refresher Course with Applications to Economics and Business. Those books were somewhat more accessible than this one (shorter on theory, more exercises, and superior in quality). Reviews I hate it. Both probability for Dummies, and Evolution for dummies, are much too dificult to understand, without a background in mathematics-algebra, calculus, on evolution, a background in genetics, dna, rna is required to understand-definitely neither are a basic course or reference. I quit reading both, and would like to sell them back-unused, like new condition. Reviews I am revising my review of this book due to the seriousness of one particular error.
On page 126, the author, Deborah Rumsey, addresses "The Famous Birthday Problem." Basically, the problem asks, "Given n people in a group, what is the probability of at least two of them sharing a birthday?"
This problem and its correct solution are well known and can be found in numerous authoritative texts such as William Feller's "Probability Theory and Its Applications" and on the Internet as well.
At first blush, Rumsey's different from the traditional approach to this problem seemed clever to me. However, upon closer examination, her method turns out to be flawed.
For example, if there were four people in the group, the correct calculation for the probability that at least two of the four people share a birthday is:
1 - (365/365)(364/365)(363/365)(362/365)
According to Rumsey's method, however, the corresponding probability would be:
Rumsey's "solution" is not mathematically equivalent to the first (correct) solution, although, fortuitously, the calculated results are nearly the same (0.0163559 versus 0.0163262). This difference reveals a subtle error in the logic of Rumsey's approach to the problem.
I'm rating this book with a single star because I feel that an error of logic in a book that purports to teach probability is not acceptable. I enjoyed reading Probability For Dummies, but I am disappointed that an otherwise well written, entertaining, and useful book has been stained by a fundamental error in reasoning.
Other errors in the book are:
On page 9, both the definition and example of the term "odds" are incorrect. "Odds" is not the ratio of the denominator to the numerator of a probability, but rather the ratio of the probability of success for a given event to the probability of failure of that event. If the probability of a horse winning a race is 50%, the odds of the horse winning is 1 to 1, not 2 to 1 as the book states.
On page 169, the formula that defines the normal distribution is incorrect. The denominator of the exponent should be "twice sigma", not "sigma".
On page 170, the formula that defines the Z distribution is incorrect. The exponent "minus Z squared" should be "minus Z squared divided by two".
Reviews I am taking a grad school class dealing with lots of Probability Distribution Models and concepts - and it has been a few years - okay a few DECADES since I first was exposed to these concepts. My prof was busy racing through lecture slides at the "Kleinrock" level of probability detail, and my eyes were glazed over and I was lost. Probability for Dummies has quickly allowed me to catch up with my prof, and now feel confident again about the concepts my prof assumed I knew with perfect recall from long, long ago. If you need consise and well written explanations of probability concepts such as pdfs, cdfs, probability distribution models, the Central Limit Theorem, etc. this book is a great help. This book is extremely 'student friendly' in that the author offers many coaching tips and comments for students from her wealth of experience as a teacher of Probability classes. Excellent book for for those looking for a quick refresher of Probability concepts! Reviews This book helps summarize probability for people who think about this topic with a foggy expression on their face. A decent book overall.
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