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Duelling Idiots and Other Probability Puzzlers by Paul J. J. Nahin

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Introduction

Part I

This is a book for people who really like probability problems. There are, I think, a lot of people who fall into that category. Indeed, the editors of Parade, a magazine insert in millions of Sunday newspapers across America, thought a probabilistic question intriguing enough to put it on the cover of their issue of August 10, 1997. For the real connoisseur of probability, however, it was actually a pretty tame problem: “Your dog has a litter of four. Is it most likely that two are males and two are females?”

That question was posed in the “Ask Marilyn” column by the famously intelligent Marilyn vos Savant, who answered, “Nope! The most likely split is three males and one female, or three females and one male.” That is correct, ...

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