Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Honesty in Inference": Review of Probability Theory: The Logic ofScience by E. T. Jaynes. Reviewed by Tommaso Toffoli. American Scientist,March-April 2004, pages 182-185.

This book was originally online and is now being published in book form. EdwinT. Jaynes, who died in 1998, was a theoretical physicist. According toToffoli, Jaynes revived the view of early probability theorists thatprobability is an "extension of logic to cases in which lack of informationmake deductive reasoning by Aristotlean syllogism impossible." This earlyinterpretation was replaced in the 19th century by probability as the limit ofan event's relative frequency. Toffoli writes that the book "is a pleasure toread.... The bibliography is rich and well annotated. There are manyexercises, and occasionally the editor has creatively turned a gap in themanuscript into an exercise for the reader."

--- Mike Breen