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11th Public Boole Lecture: "The Search for Randomness" by world-renowned Professor Persi Diaconis

Prof Persi Diaconis.  Photo: Courtesy of L.A. Cicero

Prof Persi Diaconis. Photo: Courtesy of L.A. Cicero

  • 06 Sep 2018

University College Cork [UCC] cordially invites you to our 11th Public Boole Lecture: "The Search for Randomness" by Stanford University Professor Persi Diaconis on 11th September, 2018 at 6.30 pm (refreshments at 6.00 pm).  Venue: Lecture Theatre G05, Western Gateway Building, UCC, Western Road, Cork, T12 XF62  Ireland.  Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.






Prof Diaconis will take a careful look at our most primitive images of random phenomena; tossing a coin, rolling a roulette wheel, shuffling cards. In each case, while things can be made suitably random, usually we are lazy and a little math (coupled with experiments) shows that things are not very random at all. This thinking hard about our basic assumptions has consequences all over the place: to the wild (mis)use of made up statistical models and to the very notions of what counts as evidence. 


At the tender age of 14,  Diaconis dropped out of school to become an apprentice to Canadian sleight-of-hand expert Dai Vernon.

After frequenting casinos and other venues where he perfected his skills in games of chance, he returned to school without a high school diploma intent on learning calculus in order to help him understand the mathematical basis for calculating odds.

Graduating from City College of New York at the age of 26, he applied to Harvard’s graduate program in mathematics and statistics. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1974. He started his teaching career at Stanford University in 1974, becoming a Professor of Statistics in 1981. In 1987 he returned to Harvard to become the G. V. Leverett Professor of Mathematics before moving in 1996 to Cornell, where he was the David Duncan Professor of Mathematics. He has been the Mary Sunseri Professor of Statistics and a Professor of Mathematics at Stanford since 1998.

Diaconis is well known for his proof (in collaboration with David Bayer of Columbia University) in 1992 that the random ordering of a deck of cards requires seven riffle shuffles. Much of his work continues to focus on everyday phenomena of randomness. His Public Boole Lecture will examine these phenomena and the extent to which they are actually random.

(Source: Princeton University, Public Lectures, 2009-2010)

Full details:

Date & Time:Tuesday 11th September 2018 at 6:30 pm

Preceded by light refreshments at 6:00 pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre G05, Western Gateway Building, UCC

Western Road, Cork, T12 XF62

Admission is free and everybody is welcome to attend.


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Event Organisers:  Dr Claus Koestler & Dr Stephen Wills (UCC School of Mathematical Sciences), and Prof John Morrison (UCC Department of Computer Science).

This seminar is proudly sponsored by: Insight Centre for Data Analytics; UCC Boole Centre for Research in Informatics; UCC College of Science, Engineering and Food Science; UCC Department of Computer Science and UCC School of Mathematical Sciences.



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