We live in an uncertain world, where many events occur unpredictably and beyond our control. Yet before the 17th century there was no systematic way to represent this uncertainty, reason with it, and make predictions about random events. Enter two French mathematicians, Pascal and Fermat, who worked out the problem of the “unfinished game” – how to fairly divide the pot between players in an interrupted game of chance. The resulting discovery fundamentally changed the way that we think about randomness and uncertainty, and along with other discoveries about probability, have shaped every aspect of our modern world, allowing us to plan our lives with extraordinary precision in spite of all its uncertainties.
This course aims to expose students to the historical development of probability, and enhance the students' understanding on how probability affects their lives, as well as society as a whole. In tutorials and course projects, students will conduct real world experiments to see concepts of probability in action. A previous course on probability and statistics is not required; the necessary concepts will be introduced in class, requiring only knowledge of secondary school mathematics.