Lecture of Interest - Probabilities from Lotteries to Polls

Fri. Feb. 27 12:30 PM - Fri. Feb. 27 01:30 PM
Location: 4M47

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal

University of Toronto, Department of Statistics

From Lotteries to Polls to Monte Carlo

This talk will use randomness and probability to answer such questions as:  Just how unlikely is it to win the 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 show that a new medical drug is effective?  Why do strange coincidences occur so often?  If a poll samples 1,000 people, how accurate are the results?  How did statistics help to expose the Ontario Lottery Retailer Scandal?

If two babies die in the same family without apparent cause, should the parents be convicted of murder?  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.

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal Bio

Jeffrey Rosenthal is an award-winning professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Toronto. He received his BSc from the University of Toronto at the age of 20, and his PhD in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 24. His 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. This led to numerous media and public appearances, and to his work exposing the Ontario lottery retailer scandal. Dr. Rosenthal has also dabbled as a computer game programmer, musical performer, and improvisational comedy performer, and is fluent in French. His web site is