2010 Niven Lecture: The Search for Randomness

  • Date: 05/31/2010
  • Time: 16:00
Persi Diaconis (Stanford University)

University of British Columbia


I will examine some of our most primitive images of random phenomenon: tossing coins, spinning a roulette wheel and shuffling cards. In each case, practical experiments, combined with a bit of mathematics shows that while randomness is possible, usually we are lazy and things are quite far from random. Connections to problems with large scale modelling are developed.


About the Speaker: Persi Warren Diaconis is the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University. He is also a former professional magician. He is particularly known for remarkable discoveries in problems involving randomness and randomization, such as coin flipping and shuffling playing cards. His many honours include a MacArthur Fellowship.


About the Niven Lectures: Ivan Niven was a famous number theorist and
expositor; his textbooks won numerous awards, have been translated into
many languages and are widely used to this day. Niven was born in Vancouver
in 1915, earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at UBC in 1934 and 1936
and his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1938. He was a faculty member
at the University of Oregon since 1947 until his retirement in 1982. The
annual Niven Lecture, held at UBC since 2005, is funded in part
through a generous bequest from Ivan and Betty
Niven to the UBC Mathematics Department.

Abstracts / Downloads / Reports: 

Zinovy Reichstein (reichst@math.ubc.ca)

Other Information: 

This is the Niven 2010 Lecture.


Department of Mathematics at UBC.