SCI 199Y: Large Numbers and Small Probabilities (2004-5)
How many molecules of water go over Niagara Falls each century? If we
lined up all the grains of sand on Toronto Islands, would they stretch
all the way to the sun? If you fly to Europe next summer, what is the
probability that your airplane will crash? Is a medical treatment safe
just because some study claims it is? How unlikely does a risk have
to be before we can safely discount it? This course will examine such
questions, including mathematical methods of estimating large numbers
and small probabilities, and also philosophical discussions of what we
can conclude when probabilities are small.
Professor Jeffrey S. Rosenthal,
Department of Statistics, University of Toronto.
Sidney Smith Hall, room 6024; phone (416) 978-4594;
Time: Tuesdays, 2-4. First class Sept 14. Last
class of first semester Dec 7. First class of second semester Jan 4.
Last class of second semester April 5. No class Feb 15 (Reading Week).
Place: Sidney Smith Hall, room 2129.
- 40% for
Class Attendance, Participation, and Small Weekly Assignments
- 20% for Minor Paper (due December 6, with preliminary info
due Nov 18 and 23)
- 40% for Major Paper (due in March/April)
- There is no textbook for this course. Instead, readings and small
assignments will be distributed by the instructor as necessary.
- Classes will involve a combination of presentation from the
instructor, student cooperative work in small groups, and whole-class
- To obtain class participation points, students are expected to
punctually attend class each week, to
enthusiastically participate in discussions and activities during
class time, and to conscientiously keep up with readings and other
(small) weekly assignments.
- The Minor Paper will be 5-10 pages (typed double spaced), and the Major
Paper will be 10-20 pages (typed double spaced). You will have some
freedom to choose your topics. Details will be discussed later.
For general assistance with writing essays, see the web page
Writing at the University of
This document is available at http://probability.ca/jeff/teaching/0405/sci199/