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Making good decisions under conditions of uncertainty requires a sound appreciation of the way random chance works. It requires, in short, an understanding of probability. In this Very Short Introduction, John Haigh introduces the ideas of probability--and the different philosophical approaches to probability--and gives a brief account of the history of development of probability theory, from Galileo and Pascal to Bayes, Laplace, Poisson, and Markov. He describes the basic probability distributions and discusses a wide range of applications in science, economics, and a variety of other contexts such as games and betting. He concludes with an intriguing discussion of coincidences and some curious paradoxes.
John Haigh is a mathematics tutor at the University of Sussex.