Cover image for Chance : a guide to gambling, love, the stock market & just about anything else
Chance : a guide to gambling, love, the stock market & just about anything else
Aczel, Amir D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Thunder's Mouth Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiii, 161 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BC141 .A189 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order

Central Library1Received on 12/7/04



Chance defines our life. Will you get the job, the lover, and the money? Now Amir Aczel, in this slim book modeled on his very successful Fermat's Last Theorem, gives readers the tools to minimize, or maximize, chance's effect on their lives. Chance marks Aczel's return to his preferred field: the popularization of mathematics. Here, Aczel explores probability theory and its daily, practical applications, while along the way relating stories of inveterate gamblers who also happen to be mathematical geniuses. With the clarity of the statistician he once was, Aczel analyzes what is commonly known as luck. Alongside chapters on "The Surprising Birthday Problem," "Coincidences," and "How to Make Great Decisions" are a history of probability theory and anecdotes of its daily applications.

Author Notes

Amir D. Aczel was born in Haifa, Israel on November 6, 1950. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in decision sciences from the business school at the University of Oregon. He taught at several universities during his lifetime including the University of Alaska and Bentley College.

His first book, Complete Business Statistics, was published in 1989 and went through eight editions. His other books include How to Beat the I.R.S. at Its Own Game: Strategies to Avoid - and Fight - an Audit; Fermat's Last Theorem: Unlocking the Secret of an Ancient Mathematical Problem; The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity; The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention That Changed the World; Entanglement: The Greatest Mystery in Physics; and Finding Zero: A Mathematician's Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers. He died from cancer on November 26, 2015 at the age of 65.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

People, as a rule, perform poorly when it comes to estimating risk and chance. Casinos profit from this ignorance about probability, and statistics in the news tend not to be well understood by the public. Aczel takes on the noble mission of enlightening readers with the theory behind everyday probability, indulging in amusing whimsies along the way. If you wish to get married, for example, Aczel advises you to reject the first 37 percent of your dating pool, after which you propose to the first date you like. He shows why one should not marvel that in a random collection of 20 people, it's likely 2 will have the same birthday. In these examples as well as others drawn from worlds ruled by chance, such as cards and the stock market, Aczel describes the nature of randomness with simple formulas, showing the results of random trials, such as coin tosses. Extending his winning track record of popularizing science (e.g., Pendulum0 , 2003), Aczel entertains readers with ways to tame the guesswork. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The baffling, for some, subject of chance and luck is demystified in this sketchy but engaging treatise. Mathematician Aczel (Fermat's Last Theorem) includes some equations, but mostly sticks to grade-school arithmetic and a few easy story problems in explicating the mathematics of probability. He untangles a number of urgent conundrums, including why buses always seem to run late, why any group of 31 people will include two with the same birthday and why random walks can model the stock market. The book abounds in counterintuitive life lessons. You shouldn't gamble, he says, but if you do then you are better off, probability-wise, if you blow your whole wad on a single spin of the roulette wheel than if you parcel it out in smaller bets. And the lovelorn can take comfort in knowing that, if you just keep dating, the odds are surprisingly good that your soul mate will turn up. Indeed, "[y]ou will maximize your probability of finding the best spouse if you date thirty-seven percent of the available candidates in your life, and then choose to stay with the next candidate who is better than all previous ones." Aczel's treatments of some topics, like game theory, are so perfunctory as to barely register, but his light touch generally makes probability come alive. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Mathematician Aczel has written several books on mathematical and scientific topics for the general public (e.g., Fermat's Last Theorem). In this new work, he once again explains the elements of probability theory for lay readers. In a clear exposition appropriately seasoned with bits of humor, he carefully points out that some of the results of probabilistic calculations can seem contrary to common sense and can even surprise experienced mathematicians and scientists such as himself; nevertheless, the results are mathematically sound and must be accepted. After the text, there are 22 problems, along with their answers. It is not often that one can recommend a mathematics book as good-quality "light" reading, but this work fits the bill.-Jack W. Weigel, Ann Arbor, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.