Jeffrey S. Rosenthal


The Curious World of Probabilities

“Jeffrey Rosenthal’s delightful book will enhance your feelings for probability and its odd relevance to so many aspects of life. If you read it you will almost certainly not be struck by lightning.”

John Allen Paulos
Author of Innumeracy


2006 recipient of the
Centre de Recherches
Mathématiques and the Statistical Society of Canada prize.

We are fascinated and frightened by randomness. From gambling casinos to video games, random events are not just surprising but thrilling and liberating. At other times, there is the dark side of random strikes such as cancer, accidents, or terrorist plots.

Jeffrey Rosenthal , a mathematician whose specialty is probability theory, is a warm and enlightening guide who takes us deeper into the questions of certainty and uncertainty.

Yet, he never loses touch with the everyday effects of probability on our lives. Should we take an airplane even though it might crash? Should we buy a lottery ticket, though we might not win? Should we buy insurance, though we might never collect? “Even Albert Einstein railed against the randomness of quantum mechanics,” says Rosenthal, “insisting that God does not play dice.”

Along the way, we get details of the history of mathematical and logical thought. We learn the truth about casinos; we are coached on reducing uncertainty by averaging; we discover how to use randomness to our advantage to outwit opponents; and we see how to link probability to our personal values to help us makes decisions.

HarperCollins Canada/World Rights Fall 2005
Joseph Henry/National Academies Press U.S. 2006
Australia Broadcasting Corp.
Australia 2006
Longanesi & C. Societa Editrice AsA Italy 2006
Hayakawa Publishing Inc. Japan 2006
Institute of Urban Future South Korea 2006
DMFA Slovenia 2006
Eichborn AG Germany 2005

Jeffrey S. Rosenthal received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University when he was only 24. By the age of 29, he had a tenured post at the University of Toronto in the Dept. of Statistics. He has published two textbooks on probability theory and more than 50 research papers, many related to his area of expertise: Markov chain Monte Carlo randomised computer algorithms.

Born in 1967 into a family of mathematicians, he is a man of wide interests in film, literature, and music. He also is and occasional comedy performer and an amateur computer game programmer.