Category Archives: Probability

Review of Finding Law (part 3)

We have been commenting on Professor Stephen Sachs’s scholarly paper “Finding Law.” In brief, we agree with Sachs that law does not have to written down to be “law.” But as we explained in our previous post, we disagree with … Continue reading

Posted in Law, Philosophy, Probability | Leave a comment

Little Data

You  may already be familiar with the term Big Data, datasets that are so gigantic that special computational methods are required to analyze them. But how about some “little data” for your pleasure? The frequency analysis pictured above, for example, … Continue reading

Posted in Bayesian Reasoning, Culture, Mathematics, Probability, Questions Rarely Asked | 1 Comment

How much is Tom Brady’s jersey really worth?

Half a mil or $119.99? That is, should the value of Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl LI jersey be its replacement value, i.e. what it would cost his team to buy him a new #12 jersey ($119.99, plus tax, according to the … Continue reading

Posted in Current Affairs, Economics, Law, Probability | Leave a comment

Ancient probability

Although modern probability theory dates to the 1600s, our ancestors have been playing games of chance for a very long time. Via the amazing Cliff Pickover, for example, check out this ancient die (circa 2500 B.C.) from the Indus Valley Civilization. (Photo Credit: … Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Games, History, Probability | 1 Comment

Close to zero

As we approach the end of the winter season, what are the chances of finding two identical snowflakes? According to physicist Jon Nelson (via Popular Mechanics), the chances are “essentially zero.” Or, to be more mathematically precise, the chances are one … Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Mathematics, Probability, Science | 4 Comments

Actuarial table of Trump’s justices

Last year, Donald Trump released a shortlist of conservative jurists he said he would consider as possible U.S. Supreme Court replacements for the late great Justice Antonin Scalia. Recently, our friend, colleague, and fellow blogger Josh Blackman (of seven-screen fame) compiled the somewhat morbid table below calculating the … Continue reading

Posted in Bayesian Reasoning, Law, Politics, Probability | 3 Comments

Pari-mutuel sports betting

State anti-gambling laws pose an existential threat to the business models of sports betting companies like FanDuel and DraftKings. (See, for example, pages 26-33 of this treatise by law professor Marc Edelman.) But what if you were to bet on … Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Probability, Sports | 2 Comments

Review of Stigler (2016)

We just finished reading Stephen Stigler’s latest book The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom (Harvard, 2016), pictured below. (Spoiler alert: Professor Stigler, a historian of statistics at the University of Chicago, summarizes the seven most revolutionary and counter-intuitive ideas in the history of statistics: … Continue reading

Posted in History, Probability | 1 Comment

The football coach who never punts …

Hat tip: Tyler Cowen, via Marginal Revolution. Addendum (18 Oct 2016): R.J. Lipton and K.W. Regan, who blog at Godel’s Lost Letter and P=NP, discuss the following theorem: Theorem 1 (Fundamental Theorem of Football?) The optimal strategy is initially always to go … Continue reading

Posted in Bayesian Reasoning, Probability, Questions Rarely Asked, Sports | 4 Comments

How are big box stores like Wells Fargo?

Lots of big box retailers like Walmart and Home Depot are ramping up their use of self-scanners in order to reduce their labor costs. That is, instead of waiting in a long line to have a cashier ring up your purchases, you can save … Continue reading

Posted in Bayesian Reasoning, Deception, Ethics, Game Theory, Law, Probability, Web/Tech | 5 Comments