brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell

12Jul/04Off

A Mathematician at the Ballpark

A Mathematician at the BallparkI'm a bit of a baseball fan, and I'm also fascinated by gambling and probability. It's rare that I find a book which talks about both, so I was somewhat pleased to see Ken Ross' A Mathematician at the Ballpark on the shelf at my local Borders. What was even more surprising was the fact that Ken's name seemed familiar, and with some cause: I believe I took Discrete Mathematics from Ken back in 1984 when I was a freshmen at the University of Oregon. The strange coincidences of this world...

Anyway, I bought his book and devoured it in a single evening. Even in my brief perusal of it prior to purchase, I thought that it would prove to be rather elementary, and I was not mistaken. If you have had no exposure to probability then it is perhaps a good place to start, but the level of discussion seems to be appropriate for high school students. It just doesn't dig that deep into either statistics or probability.

I could forgive this as a shortcoming and recommend this book except for one thing: it really doesn't have much about baseball either. Many of the examples are drawn from roulette rather than the great American pasttime, and as a result if you bought it thinking it might help you enjoy the statistical side of baseball, you'll be left feeling dissatisfied as well. I was hoping more baseball in a book with a baseball diamond on the cover.

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