Preface for the First Edition

Historical Note

The theory of probability is concerned with events that occur when randomness or chance influences the result. When the data from a sample survey or the occurrence of extreme weather patterns are common enough examples of situations where randomness is involved, we have come to presume that many models of the physical world contain elements of randomness as well. Scientists now commonly suppose that their models contain random components as well as deterministic components. Randomness, of course, does not involve any new physical forces; rather than measuring all the forces involved and thus predicting the exact outcome of an experiment, we choose to combine all these forces and call the result random. The study of random events is the subject of this book.

It is impossible to chronicle the first interest in events involving randomness or chance, but we do know of a correspondence between Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat in the middle of the seventeenth century regarding questions arising in gambling games. Appropriate mathematical tools for the analysis of such situations were not available at that time, but interest continued among some mathematicians. For a long time, the subject was connected only to gambling games and its development was considerably restricted by the situations arising from such considerations. Mathematical techniques suitable for problems involving randomness have produced a theory applicable to not only ...

Get Probability: An Introduction with Statistical Applications, 2nd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.