PMU 199Y, L0411: PROBABILITIES EVERYWHERE (2010-11)
This course will examine both the meaning and the mathematics of
probabilities, and how they arise in everyday life, in news and current
events, in movies, and elsewhere. Specific topics may include: margins of
error in polls, the interpretation of medical studies, long run averages
in casinos, games involving dice and cards, the nature of coincidences,
crime statistics, the use of utility functions to make decisions,
the use of probabilities to block spam e-mail messages, the role of
randomness in evolution, pseudorandomness, Monte Carlo algorithms,
and how mathematics is best taught and best learned.
To succeed in this course, it is necessary to actively participate in
class discussions, and enthusiastically consider a variety of logical,
mathematical, and societal issues from a variety of perspectives.
Prerequisite: At least one grade 12 mathematics course
(or the equivalent from another country).
Time: Wednesdays, 2-4. (First class Sept 15.)
Location: Sidney Smith Hall, room 1078.
Course Web Page:
Struck by Lightning:
The Curious World of Probabilities,
available from the U of T Bookstore or from e.g. amazon.ca.
(This book will provide a starting point for our discussions, but we
will also probe more deeply into some of the topics.)
Professor Jeffrey S. Rosenthal,
Department of Statistics, University of Toronto.
Sidney Smith Hall, room 5016B; phone 416-978-4594;
- 50% for Class Attendance and Participation and Homework
- 20% for Minor Paper
(due towards end of first semester)
- 30% for Major Paper
(due towards end of second semester)
- Classes will involve both
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 homework. It is crucial to have
excellent attendance, and to
speak up often and
listen carefully to others during whole-class
- Weekly homework will usually involve reading from the textbook
and answering various questions about what you have read.
- The Minor Paper will be 5-10 pages (typed double spaced), and the Major
Paper will be 10-15 pages (typed double spaced). You will have significant
flexibility in the choice of topic. Details will be announced later.
For assistance with writing essays, see the resources on the web page
Writing at the University of
Not to Plagiarize),
and also ELL and
See also the
U of T Library,