John Haigh: Probability : A Very Short Introduction

Probability was one of the three courses I actually enjoyed at college (the others were English and one particular semester of railway building; poor result for a civil engineering institution). But as they say, “use it or lose it”: I’ve forgotten nearly all I’d learned then. Hence a decision to refresh my memory of the basics at least.

The beginning was all right, but soon came a moment when even after being told and ‘explained’ the solution I sometimes didn’t understand the explanation[1]. And once the author got to TV games and suchlike, I often failed to understand the question[2], let alone follow the explanation[3].

Now the book did remind me of some things I’d half-forgotten, and tell me some I never knew; but while not a complete failure, I have to admit it was a bit of a disappointment. (Of course, I realise that the problem may be more on my side than the author’s. But that doesn’t help me.)
 

[1] Eg, “Two guys play the best of five games, but have to finish when the score is 2-1. How do you divide the prize justly? Count the numbers of possible outcomes giving the overall victory to either if they did play on and make the ratio. Thus one should get 3/4, the other 1/4.” Eh? The posssible scenarios are: from 2-1 to 3-1, or to 2-2 to 3-2, or to 2-2 to 2-3. How do you from 3 possibilities, 2 winning for one side, 1 for the other, get to quarters?
[2] For instance, the way something called The Colour of Money was described, I had no idea what a possible decision of the player would result in immediately, not to say in the long run.
[3] Like, “She played the King. That means that if she had King alone, she had to play it, but if she had both King and Queen, she might have played the Queen.” I’m not willing to go and learn the rules of whist just to understand that.

 

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