Persi Diaconis

Mary Sunseri Professor of Mathematics and Statistics,
Stanford University USA

Mathematician, statistician AND magician

will give a public lecture entitled

The search for randomness

on Wednesday 8th of December 2010

What does it mean to say something is "random"? Persi
Diaconis will take a close look at some of our most
primitive images of random phenomena: tossing a coin,
shuffling cards, and rolling a roulette wheel. While all
these processes can achieve randomness, usually we are
lazy. A bit of math and experiment shows that things
are not so random after all.

About the speaker: At 14 Persi Diaconis had finished high school when he was invited by Dai Vernon, the greatest magician in the US, to go on
tour with him. Diaconis dropped out of school and left home without telling his parents. At 16 he struck out on his own as a
magician and did well doing magic, inventing tricks, giving lessons and living a very colorful life. When he came across a
book on probability that he couldn't read he decided to enrol in a mathematics degree. He graduated two and a half years
later. He has been at Stanford since he completed his PhD in 1974.

"The way I do magic is very similar to mathematics. Inventing a magic trick and inventing a theorem are very, very
similar activities . . . One difference between magic and mathematics is the competition. The competition in
mathematics is a lot stiffer than in magic."

Persi Diaconis, who is one of the world’s most famous mathematicians, is well known for his talks on popular mathematics
to non-specialist audiences. Come and enjoy an evening with him. Enquiries 9332 2900 or

[email protected]He will be visiting Perth as an invited speaker at the Australian Statistics Conference and OZCOTS, the Australian
Conference on Teaching Statistics (www.promaco.com.au/2010/asc/).