Dueling Idiots & Other Probability Puzzlers
by Paul J. Nahin
The author is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire where he teaches an undergraduate course in probability theory. "What he offers here is the mathematical equivalent of a collection of Far Side cartoons: a series of quirky vignettes, each with an amusing punchline that reveals something new about an offbeat aspect of reality." For example, what are your chances of dying on your next flight, being called for jury duty, or winning the lottery? We all encounter probability problems in our everyday lives. In this collection of twenty-one puzzles, Paul Nahin challenges us to think creatively about the laws of probability as they apply in playful, sometimes deceptive, ways to a fascinating array of speculative situations. Games of Russian roulette, problems involving the accumulation of insects on flypaper, and strategies for determining the odds of the underdog winning the World Series all reveal intriguing dimensions to the workings of probability. Over the years, Nahin, a veteran writer and teacher of the subject, has collected these and other favorite puzzles designed to instruct and entertain math enthusiasts of all backgrounds.