The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow

| February 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

Leonard Mlodinow, an American theoretical physicist, has quite an impressive collection of authored books. It includes such books as The Grand Design, Subliminal: How Your Subconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, A Briefer History of Time and Feynman’s Rainbow. So it’s no wonder that one of his books appeared in a high 2nd position of our Top 10 Physics Book list. And the name of the book is The Drunkard’s Walk. So let’s take a closer look.

Author: Leonard Mlodinow

Paperback: 272

Publisher:Vintage; Reprint edition (May 5, 2009)

ISBN-10: 0307275175

ISBN-13: 978-0307275172

Kindle edition: (US|UK)

Reviews: customer reviews

Rating: ★★★★ Ranking: 14,300 US Version UK Version

Leonard Mlodinow is an American theoretical physicist at Caltech. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, to immigrant Jewish parents who were holocaust survivors. Besides being a physicist and an author he has written articles for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Forbes magazine, among other publications.

Editorial review:

In The Drunkard’s Walk Leonard Mlodinow provides readers with a wonderfully readable guide to how the mathematical laws of randomness affect our lives. With insight he shows how the hallmarks of chance are apparent in the course of events all around us. The understanding of randomness has brought about profound changes in the way we view our surroundings, and our universe. I am pleased that Leonard has skillfully explained this important branch of mathematics–Stephen Hawking

Review

So first of all, what is the so called drunkard’s walk? A drunkard’s walk is a type of random statistical distribution with important applications in scientific studies ranging from biology to astronomy. Mlodinow leads readers on a walk through the hills and valleys of randomness and how it directs our lives in more ways than we realize. Along the way important historical figures such as Bernoulli, Laplace and Pascal are introduced, emphasizing their ideas connected to drunkard’s walk. In addition, more technical concepts are introduced as well, for instance regression to the mean and the law of large numbers.

Here is the chapter list:

1. Peering through the Eyepiece of Randomness
2. The Laws of Truths and Half-Truths
3. Finding Your Way Through a Space of Possibilities
4. Tracking the Pathways to Success
5. The Dueling Laws of Large and Small Numbers
6. False Positives and Positive Fallacies
7. Measurement and the Law of Errors
8. The Order in Chaos
9. Illusions of Patterns and Patterns of Illusion
10. The Drunkard’s Walk

Now I’m sure some of you are asking: how can statistics be possibly interesting? And to be honest, I shared a similar opinion for a long time until I found out some interesting aspects about statistics. For instance statistics is related to such concepts as the famous butterfly effect or of the most interesting fields of physics — statistical physics. The good think about this book, is that it mentions and discusses these peculiarities and, even better, it shows how statistics plays a much more important role in our daily lives than one might think. So taking into account that it is not too technical and well-written I do recommend it.

 

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