John Kinney Memorial Lecture*
Thursday, August 29, 2013
1400 BPS, Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48823
The Search For Randomness**
Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics
I will take a careful look at some of our most primitive images of random phenomena:
flipping a coin, spinning a roulette wheel, and shuffling cards. For each, there
is a well-developed mathematical theory BUT comparison with the real thing shows
that we are lazy and often the usual laws of probability break down. This has implications
for both the casino and for routine mathematical modeling (big models and big data).
“Diaconis left home at 14 to travel with sleight-of-hand legend Dai Vernon, and
dropped out of high school, promising himself that he would return one day so that
he could learn all of the math necessary to read William Feller’s famous two-volume
treatise on probability theory, An Introduction to Probability Theory and Its Applications.
He returned to school (City College of New York for his undergraduate work graduating
in 1971 and then a Ph.D. in Mathematical Statistics from Harvard University in 1974),
learned to read Feller, and became a mathematical probabilist”.
Professor Diaconis has contributed much to probability, statistics and mathematics.
He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards including a MacArthur Fellowship,
1982 – 1987, and election to the National Academy of Sciences, 1995. http://www-stat.stanford.edu/~cgates/PERSI
* The John Kinney Memorial Endowment Fund was established by Larry and Lois Dimmitt
to support lectures in the memory of John Kinney. Professor Kinney was a member
of the Departments of Statistics and Probability and Mathematics at MSU, 1965 -
1983. He would have been very pleased to know that Persi Diaconis will present the
inaugural John Kinney Memorial Lecture. John also thought “out-of-the-box.”
**Professor Diaconis will give his second lecture in the Departments of Statistics
and Probability and Mathematics on Friday, August 30 at 10:20AM
in C405 Wells Hall. PLEASE NOT THE HAS CHANGED
title of that talk is “Mathematics and Statistics for Large Networks.” Click here for more information.