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Lecture: The Search for Randomness

Lecture: The Search for Randomness
AUSTIN, Texas -- On Friday, February 19, at 3:15 p.m., renowned mathematician Persi Diaconis will speak on “The Search for Randomness.”

“I will take a careful look at some of our most primitive images of random phenomena,” says Diaconis, “actions like flipping a coin, shuffling cards, and rolling a roulette ball. In each case, physics and math show that (usually) things are not very random.”

Diaconis, a Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, is perhaps most famous as the mathematician to propose that it takes seven riffle shuffles to adequately “randomize” a deck of cards. The paper in which he and a colleague made the argument, “Trailing the Dovetail Shuffle to its Lair,” was published in the Annals of Applied Probability in 1992.

With over 200 papers to his credit, Diaconis has made path-breaking contributions to many areas of mathematics and statistics. He also, between the ages of 14 and 24, was an accomplished professional magician and inventor of card tricks.

At 24, he went back to night school to earn his undergraduate degree in mathematics, did so in two-and-a-half years, moved on to Harvard for his PhD in statistics, and joined the faculty at Stanford three years later

“The Search for Randomness” is part of the Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the Division of Statistics and Scientific Computation and the McCombs School of Business.
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Monday, 19 April 2021

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