Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Probability and "Man from the South"

A few nights ago I read Roald Dahl's "Man from the South", which brings to mind Dahl (surely no relation of Borges' Dahlmann) as a combination of Poe, Borges and O. Henry, and surely no writer of children's books. A RocketFuel colleague, Ari, pointed out a Hitchcock movie based on the story, which I might get around to watching some nice and bright sunny Saturday morning. To tranquilize myself after reading the rather macabre tale at night, I fell to thinking about some rather interesting probability questions based on the events described.

I want to give you the chance to read the story first, and I really hope, post your own questions, before I raise my questions in a blog in a couple of days. Then, a few days later, I'll give my solutions, which, because of possible differing assumptions, may be different from yours. I'll also add the takes of people who talk to me about it.

Yet another RFI colleague, Jack, referred me to a wikipedia article and pointed out that I was not the first to start thinking about probability motivated by games of chance. Late by a whisker again, Jeeves, dash it all!

1 comment:

Ranjeet Tate said...

via Jack: Exactly the question you were asking about fairly dividing the prize when a game of chance gets interrupted is what prompted the first development of probability theory:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_points