Presenting probability in a natural way, this book uses interesting, carefully selected instructive examples that explain the theory, definitions, theorems, and methodology. Fundamentals of Probability has been adopted by the American Actuarial Society as one of its main references for the mathematical foundations of actuarial science. Topics include: axioms of probability; combinatorial methods; conditional probability and independence; distribution functions and discrete random variables; special discrete distributions; continuous random variables; special continuous distributions; bivariate distributions; multivariate distributions; sums of independent random variables and limit theorems; stochastic processes; and simulation. For anyone employed in the actuarial division of insurance companies and banks, electrical engineers, financial consultants, and industrial engineers.
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This one- or two-term basic probability text is written for majors in mathematics, physical sciences, engineering, statistics, actuarial science, business and finance, operations research, and computer science. It can also be used by students who have completed a basic calculus course. Our aim is to present probability in a natural way: through interesting and instructive examples and exercises that motivate the theory, definitions, theorems, and methodology. Examples and exercises have been carefully designed to arouse curiosity and hence encourage the students to delve into the theory with enthusiasm.
Authors are usually faced with two opposing impulses. One is a tendency to put too much into the book, because everything is important and everything has to be said the author's way! On the other hand, authors must also keep in mind a clear definition of the focus, the level, and the audience for the book, thereby choosing carefully what should be "in" and what "out." Hopefully, this book is an acceptable resolution of the tension generated by these opposing forces.
Instructors should enjoy the versatility of this text. They can choose their favorite problems and exercises from a collection of 1558 and, if necessary, omit some sections and/or theorems to teach at an appropriate level.
Exercises for most sections are divided into two categories: A and B. Those in category A are routine, and those in category B are challenging. However, not all exercises in category B are uniformly challenging. Some of those exercises are included because students find them somewhat difficult.
I have tried to maintain an approach that is mathematically rigorous and, at the same time, closely matches the historical development of probability. Whenever appropriate, I include historical remarks, and also include discussions of a number of probability problems published in recent years in journals such as Mathematics Magazine and American Mathematical Monthly. These are interesting and instructive problems that deserve discussion in classrooms.
Chapter 13 concerns computer simulation. That chapter is divided into several sections, presenting algorithms that are used to find approximate solutions to complicated probabilistic problems. These sections can be discussed independently when relevant materials from earlier chapters are being taught, or they can be discussed concurrently, toward the end of the semester. Although I believe that the emphasis should remain on concepts, methodology, and the mathematics of the subject, I also think that students should be asked to read the material on simulation and perhaps do some projects. Computer simulation is an excellent means to acquire insight into the nature of a problem, its functions, its magnitude, and the characteristics of the solution.
Other Continuing Features
New To This Edition
Since 2000, when the second edition of this book was published, I have received much additional correspondence and feedback from faculty and students in this country and abroad. The comments, discussions, recommendations, and reviews helped me to improve the book in many ways. All detected errors were corrected, and the text has been fine-tuned for accuracy. More explanations and clarifying comments have been added to almost every section. In this edition, 278 new exercises and examples, mostly of an applied nature, have been added. More insightful and better solutions are given for a number of problems and exercises. For example, I have discussed Borel's normal number theorem, and I have presented a version of a famous set which is not an event. If a fair coin is tossed a very large number of times, the general perception is that heads occurs as often as tails. In a new subsection, in Section 11.4, I have explained what is meant by "heads occurs as often as tails."
Some of the other features of the present revision are the following:
For a one-term course on probability, instructors have been able to omit many sections without difficulty. The book is designed for students with different levels of ability, and a variety of probability courses, applied and/or pure, can be taught using this book. A typical one-semester course on probability would cover Chapters 1 and 2; Sections 3.13.5; Chapters 4, 5, 6; Sections 7.1-7.4; Sections 8.1-8.3; Section 9.1; Sections 10.1-10.3; and Chapter 11.
A follow-up course on introductory stochastic processes, or on a more advanced probability would cover the remaining material in the book with an emphasis on Sections 8.4, 9.2-9.3, 10.4 and, especially, the entire Chapter 12.
A course on discrete probability would cover Sections 1.1-1.5; Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5; The subsections Joint Probability Mass Functions, Independence of Discrete Random Variables, and Conditional Distributions: Discrete Case, from Chapter 8; the subsection Joint Probability Mass Functions, from Chapter 9; Section 9.3; selected discrete topics from Chapters 10 and 11; and Section 12.3.
For the issues concerning this book, such as reviews and errata, the Web site
is established. In this Web site, I may also post new examples, exercises, and topics that I will write for future editions.
I have written an Instructor's Solutions Manual that gives detailed solutions to virtually all of the 1224 exercises of the book. This manual is available, directly from Prentice Hall, only for those instructors who teach their courses from this book.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
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