Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"A Polemic on Probability": A review of Probability Theory: The Logic ofScience, by E.T. Jaynes. Reviewed by by Andrew H. Jaffe. Science, 5 September 2003.

After identifying Jaynes as "a Bayesian," the reviewer notes that "an importanttheme reiterated throughout the book is the distinction between frequencies,which may be objective experimental results, and probabilities, which areassigned based on experimental and theoretical information." The reviewer notesthat the book, published posthumously, includes work available on the internet,but is collated here in book form by Jaynes's former student Larry Bretthorst.Although the reviewer finds some small problems with the book heconcludes "Overall, Jaynes's curmudgeonly outlook makes ProbabilityTheory considerably more entertaining than the average statistics textbook[and] the conceptual points that underlie his attacks are often right on."

--- Annette Emerson