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Theory of Probability by Bruno de Finetti

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Preface

I became a postgraduate student of statistics at University College London in 1968, soon after Dennis Lindley had moved there to become the head of the department. He was, at that time, one of the very few academic statisticians committed to the so‐called Bayesian approach to the subject. While I was a postgraduate, Lindley several times mentioned to me that his American colleague and fellow Bayesian, L.J. Savage, had encouraged him, and indeed anyone interested in the subjectivist approach to Bayesian statistics, to read the works of the Italian probabilist, actuary and philosopher, Bruno de Finetti.

But there was a problem for most of us at that time. Very little of his work had been translated into English and his 1970 magnum opus, the two‐volume Teoria Delle Probabilitá, was only available in Italian. The thought of struggling through several hundred pages of dense and difficult writing with the aid of a dictionary was simply too daunting.

In 1971, I left University College London to take up an academic post at the Mathematics Institute in the University of Oxford. Early in 1972, an Italian group theorist called Antonio Machí came to spend a year at the Institute. We became friends and at some stage I mentioned my interest in de Finetti and the frustrations of trying to get to grips with the Teoria Delle Probabilita. Antonio immediately suggested that we work together on translating the two‐volume work into English. Two years later, after many exchanges between ...

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