Jeffrey S. Rosenthal

Department of Statistics, University of Toronto

“The Curious World of Probabilities”

Date: Monday, November 9, 2009

Probabilities and randomness arise whenever we're not sure what will happen next. They apply to everything from lottery jackpots to airplane crashes, casino gambling, homicide rates, medical studies, election polls, poker games, coincidences, and the spread of disease. They are also essential for statistical inference and for Monte Carlo computer algorithms. This talk will explore uncertainty's ubiquity in a lighthearted way, and discuss how a Probability Perspective can shed new light on familiar situations. Jeffrey Rosenthal is a professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Toronto. He received his BSc in Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science from the University of Toronto at the age of 20; his PhD in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 24; and tenure in the Department of Statistics at the University of Toronto at the age of 29. For his research, he was awarded the 2006 CRM-SSC Prize, and also the 2007 COPSS Presidents' Award, the most prestigious honour bestowed by the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies. For his lecturing, he received a Harvard University Teaching Award in 1991, and an Arts and Science Outstanding Teaching Award at the University of Toronto in 1998.

Rosenthal's book for the general public, Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities, was a bestseller in Canada, and is being published in a total of fifteen countries. Rosenthal has also published two textbooks about probability theory, and over fifty research papers, many related to the field of Markov chain Monte Carlo randomised computer algorithms. He has also worked as a computer game programmer, musician, and improvisational comedy performer, and is fluent in French. He maintains the web site Despite being born on Friday the thirteenth, Rosenthal has been a very fortunate person.

(Public lecture)