I’ve always had a penchant for probability. I’ve loved figuring out odds and chances of things. That’s why I took my undergraduate degree in Statistics before I went on into Computer Science.
Today I had the utmost pleasure in going to a lecture at the University of Manitoba by Jeffrey Rosenthal, a visiting professor of probability from Toronto. He is the author of the best seller: “Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities” which I purchased and had signed after the lecture and am looking forward to read.
Jeffrey was extremely interesting and entertaining. He mentioned along the way the Monty Hall problem, you know: three doors, you pick one, they open another. Do you want to switch? I asked Jeffrey afterwards if he had heard about the Monty Fall, Monty Crawl and Monty Small adaptations. Well, to my surprise, he was the one who wrote that.
I had two questions I was going to ask him. The first was about coincidences. When we went to New York, there was a fellow I went to school with as a kid, who now lived in Toronto, who happened to be at the same Broadway Show as us in the same row! What are the chances?
The second question was on improbable events happening in sequence. We had a 15 inch rainfall one day in the Summer about 10 years ago. They said it was a 1 in 400 year event. We had the same 1 in 400 year rainfall 2 weeks later. Then one week later, slightly less but a 1 in 100 year rainfall. What are the chances?
So as Jeffrey was finishing up his talk, he ended with two last points. One about coincidences, and one about clumping of random events. He answered both my questions with his last two points before I could ask them. What are the chances of that?