Free Public Lecture

"Born on Friday the Thirteenth: The Curious World of Probabilities"

by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, Professor of Statistics, University of Toronto

Monday, July 30, 2018, at 7:00 p.m.

Vancouver Convention Centre, West Ballroom A

All are welcome! No fee or registration or background knowledge required!

This talk will use randomness and probability to answer such questions as: Just how unlikely is it to win a lottery jackpot? If you flip 100 coins, how close will the number of heads be to 50? How many dying patients must be saved to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new medical drug? Why do strange coincidences occur so often? How accurate are opinion polls? How did statistics help to expose the Ontario Lottery Retailer Scandal? Should parents be convicted of murder if two of their babies die without apparent cause? Can statistics explain luck and superstition? Why do casinos always make money, even though gamblers sometimes win and sometimes lose? And how is all of this related to Monte Carlo algorithms, an extremely popular and effective method for scientific computing? No mathematical background is required to attend.

Jeffrey S. Rosenthal is a professor of Statistics at the University of Toronto. He received his BSc from the University of Toronto at the age of 20, his PhD in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 24, and tenure at the University of Toronto at the age of 29. He received the 2006 CRM-SSC Prize, the 2007 COPSS Presidents' Award, the 2013 SSC Gold Medal, and teaching awards at both Harvard and Toronto. He is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and of the Royal Society of Canada. Rosenthal's book for the general public, Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities, was published in sixteen editions and ten languages, and was a bestseller in Canada, leading to numerous media and public appearances, and to his work exposing the Ontario lottery retailer scandal. His web site is Despite being born on Friday the Thirteenth, Rosenthal has been a very fortunate person.

This talk is presented in conjunction with the 2018 Joint Statistical Meetings; see their talk web page and press release.