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Do Dice Play God?

Imprint: Profile Books
Pages: 320
Subject: Science & Mathematics
Illustrations: c. 40 line

Do Dice Play God?

The Mathematics of Uncertainty

Ian Stewart

Professor Ian Stewart explores the development and limits of the mathematics that tame uncertainty

Hardback(Preorder only)
9781781259436 (Published 6 Jun 2019)

About the book

Uncertainty is everywhere. It lurks in every consideration of the future - the weather, the economy, the sex of an unborn child - even quantities we think that we know such as populations or the transit of the planets contain the possibility of error. It's no wonder that, throughout that history, we have attempted to produce rigidly defined areas of uncertainty - we prefer the surprise party to the surprise asteroid.

We began our quest to make certain an uncertain world by reading omens in livers, tea leaves, and the stars. However, over the centuries, driven by curiosity, competition, and a desire be better gamblers, pioneering mathematicians and scientists began to reduce wild uncertainties to tame distributions of probability and statistical inferences. But, even as unknown unknowns became known unknowns, our pessimism made us believe that some problems were unsolvable and our intuition misled us. Worse, as we realized how omnipresent and varied uncertainty is, we encountered chaos, quantum mechanics, and the limitations of our predictive power.

Bestselling author Professor Ian Stewart explores the history and mathematics of uncertainty. Touching on gambling, probability, statistics, financial and weather forecasts, censuses, medical studies, chaos, quantum physics, and climate, he makes one thing clear: a reasonable probability is the only certainty.

About the author

Ian Stewart is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and the author of the bestseller Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematics Curiosities. His recent books include Significant Figures, Incredible Numbers, Seventeen Equations that Changed the World, Professor Stewart's Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries and Calculating the Cosmos (all published by Profile). His app, Incredible Numbers, was published jointly by Profile and Touch Press in 2014. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society.


Praise for Ian Stewart: Stewart is Britain's most brilliant and prolific populariser of maths

- Alex Bellos

This is not pure maths. It is maths contaminated with wit, wisdom, and wonder ... He guides us on a mind-boggling journey from the ultra trivial to the profound. Thoroughly entertaining

- New Scientist

Humbling and inspiring. Stewart shows with his typical clarity how the power of pure thought has shaped our world for over two millennia.

- Jim Al-Khalili, FRS

This is a superb Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities that deserves a place with the classics of the genre.

- Mathematics Today

'With captivating stories and his signature clarity, Ian Stewart shows us how math makes the world - and the rest of the universe - go round.

- Steven Strogatz, Professor of Mathematics, Cornell University

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Pages: 320
Subject: Science & Mathematics
Illustrations: c. 40 line