A Certain Uncertainty

A Certain Uncertainty : Nature's Random Ways

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Based around a series of real-life scenarios, this engaging introduction to statistical reasoning will teach you how to apply powerful statistical, qualitative and probabilistic tools in a technical context. From analysis of electricity bills, baseball statistics, and stock market fluctuations, through to profound questions about physics of fermions and bosons, decaying nuclei, and climate change, each chapter introduces relevant physical, statistical and mathematical principles step-by-step in an engaging narrative style, helping to develop practical proficiency in the use of probability and statistical reasoning. With numerous illustrations making it easy to focus on the most important information, this insightful book is perfect for students and researchers of any discipline interested in the interwoven tapestry of probability, statistics, and physics.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 60 b/w illus. 62 colour illus. 57 tables
  • 1139990101
  • 9781139990103

Table of contents

1. Tools of the trade; 2. The 'fundamental problem' of a practical physicist; 3. Mother of all randomness I: the random disintegration of matter; 4. Mother of all randomness II: the random creation of light; 5. A certain uncertainty; 6. Doing the numbers: nuclear physics and the stock market; 7. On target: uncertainties of projectile flight; 8. The guesses of groups; 9. The random flow of energy I: power to the people; 10. The random flow of energy II: warning from the weather underground; Index.show more

Review quote

'For physicists, it has long been integral to our science to ascribe an uncertainty to every data point, to every inference, to every theory. That is, a measurement is regarded as meaningless without assigning an 'error bar' to it. This delightful book by Mark Silverman shows the reader how a physicist does this with the 'tools of his trade'; namely mathematical analysis, starting with Bayes' theorem, Poissonian and Gaussian statistics, and progressing through Shannon's information formulation of entropy. This book is mathematically complete, but not intense, making it intellectually stimulating, with conclusions that are sometimes surprising. I recommend it with considerable enthusiasm.' Samuel A. Werner, University of Missouri 'A Certain Uncertainty is a 'case study' approach that gives insight in the proper use of statistics through truly interesting physics. This is a book you will read, enjoy, and keep.' James P. McClymer, University of Maine 'Mark Silverman brings together his wide-ranging expertise to discuss in a unified way the role of probability, statistics, and randomness in all aspects of our understanding of the physical universe. The topics discussed are not only in the basic areas of physics, but also include topics such as air-traffic safety, climate change, and the stock market. As in his previous books, his style is lucid and engaging. A Certain Uncertainty is self-contained with an introductory chapter that includes all of the tools of statistics and probability that are needed for a complete understanding of the material covered in subsequent chapters. Due to its comprehensive and highly informative nature, [this book] is a worthy addition to the bookshelf of any physicist.' Ronald L. Mallett, University of Connecticut '... this is a great book. ... I particularly like the way statistics and physics are interwoven. The notation is clean and comprehensible ... and not obfuscated by a lot of the pretentious notation that has contaminated many more recent books. Although it is not designed as a text, it is definitely going on my recommended reading list.' David J. Thomson, American Journal of Physics 'I really believe that this book would be of interest to a broad public, including students, professors and researchers with a clear interest in randomness, chance, and uncertainty. Furthermore, it provides a very different perspective to statistical physics beyond the standard one ...' Miguel A. F. Sanjuan, Contemporary Physicsshow more

About Mark P. Silverman

Mark P. Silverman is the G. A. Jarvis Professor of Physics at Trinity College, Connecticut. He received his PhD in Chemical Physics from Harvard University, and has since pursued a wide range of experimental and theoretical studies concerning the structure of matter, the behavior of light, and the dynamics of stars and galaxies.show more

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