Penn State

David R. Hunter - Associate Professor of Statistics, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Fifty Challenging Problems in Probability with Solutions

Author: Frederick Mosteller

Book Description:

I grew up loving puzzles, particularly math puzzles, and I firmly believe that my interest in mathematics was heightened, and my skill in mathematics honed, by the many math problems I tried to solve over the years. Several books of math problems stand out in my memory, and I highlight this particular one for several reasons. I bought a copy of it shortly before I went to graduate school, spending many hours deriving my own solutions and reading Mosteller's. Its topic, probability, aside from being a particularly beautiful branch of mathematics in my opinion, has special relevance to my chosen field of statistics. The book is short, it contains many of the best-known classical probability problems (e.g., the birthday problem, gambler's ruin, random walks, and Buffon's needle), and it is exceedingly easy to read. Or rather, the problems themselves are easy to read--the solutions are not always so easy. In any event, the book rewards whatever level of commitment the reader is willing to give, since Mosteller's entertaining and elegant solutions vary greatly in their level of difficulty. Yet none requires any mathematics training beyond a typical undergraduate course in probability, making this simple, classic book accessible to a wide audience.


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