Update, 10:27 pm: It turns out the book is available for sale right now! So go buy one right this very second! Don’t know what that June 4 date was all about…
And it’s a good one! The official release date for the Big Monty Hall Book (BMHB) is June 4, but some review copies have already gone out. One of those went to Peter Flom, who is a diarist for Daily Kos. You can find the full review here.
I’ll mention right up front that the book was sent to me by Oxford University Press, it’s called the Monty Hall Problem, the author is Jason Rosenhouse, it’s due out in early July, and I liked it a lot.
Early June, not July. But I’m glad he liked the book.
This is one diary and the book is 200 pages. So, what else is in the book? There’s considerable detail about the origins of the problem and the huge outcry when vos Savant published the right answer. There’s extensive coverage of a lot of variations of the Monty Hall game (e.g. different probabilities, more doors etc). Much more important, though, this is a (mostly successful) attempt to teach a course in probability theory through the use of the MH problem.
Mostly? I’ll take it!
I think it has a couple audiences. First, if you are taking a formal probability course at university, this could be a good backup to your text. OTOH, if you are teaching such a course, you could use this as a main text (I’ve never seen a probability text that is this much fun to read). A course based on this book would cover a lot of the ground of a one-semester intro to probability course.
Probably few at daily Kos are in either of those groups. Among the general population, I think this book could be read in two ways: First, you could read chapters 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8, and either skip 3, 4, and 5 or skim them. (Chapter 4, in particular, will be heavy going). Second, if you want to learn probability theory, you could read the whole book. In this case, you’ll want to read it more like a text book.
I was really gratified to read this, since it conforms well to what I was envisioning when I wrote the book. There is a tradeoff between mathematical rigor and readiblity, but I wanted to have a fair amount of both. This is a math book, and I wasn’t afraid of having some equations and notation. But I also wanted plenty of material that a nonmathematician could read as well. So much of the book has no math at all, while in other places the math is fairly light. There are a few places where the math gets pretty dense, but they can be skipped on a first reading. Or a second one, for that matter.
I was also trying to show how a first course in probability theory could be taught using nothing more than variations on the Monty Hall problem, so I am glad Flom commented on that.
I’m glad he found the book fun to read. You should all follow his example…