17 February 2008

Things I found from browsing David Aldous' web page

David Aldous has a list of non-technical books related to probability, complete with short reviews, and a much shorter list of technical books. This was constructed for his undergraduate seminar From Undergraduate Probability Theory to the Real World.

Also found from Aldous' page: Current and Emerging Research Opportunities in Probability, a report dating from 2002. This document summarizes views on that subject by the probabilists at a workshop with a similar name. Very short summary: probability is important -- here are a bunch of examples -- and we should make sure more people learn it. Since I talked about pretty pictures yesterday, I should point out that this report contains many pretty pictures.

A random fact about Aldous: very often when reading papers related to things he's done (which therefore cite him), the first reference in the bibliography is to one of his papers. This is, of course, because his name falls very early in the alphabet. This is true often enough that if I see [1] in the right sort of paper, and I just want to know the author of the work in question, I don't bother flipping back to the bibliography. It's very important here that he's at the beginning of the alphabet; the same phenomenon doesn't happen with a researcher at the end of the alphabet, because bibliographies are not all the same length. Also, papers with multiple authors tend to end up early in an alphabetized bibliography because there is something of a convention for collaborators to put their names in alphabetical order. (See, for example, the most recent submissions to the arXiv in mathematics. As that list stands right now, you'll have to go back a few pages to find a collaborative paper that's not alphabetized -- I was actually starting to think the arXiv might automatically alphabetize author names.)

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