University of Miami
Department of Mathematics

Persi Diaconis

Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics
Stanford University

will present

On Coincidences

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013, 5:00pm
Wilder Auditorium, Knight Physics Building

Reception immediately following the lecture
All interested persons are welcome to attend.

Abstract: Coincidences can amaze us, affecting where we live and with whom. I will review early work of Freud and Jung, tell stories about hands-on investigation of psychics, and introduce a set of tools for thinking critically about some of the strange things that happen. Sometimes, a little bit of skeptical thinking shows things are not so surprising after all.

Persi Diaconis, the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University, is one of the world's most renowned mathematicians; he has made fundamental and dramatic contributions which extend far beyond mathematics. Prior to his appointment at Stanford, he was the David Duncan Professor of Mathematics at Cornell University and the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Mathematics at Harvard. Diaconis has a remarkable bio; he started out as a professional magician performing on cruise ships in the Caribbean (and other venues) before returning to school to earn a B.S. in mathematics from the City College of New York in 1971 followed by a Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard in 1974. He first achieved fame in the popular press for his striking work with Dave Bayer on card shuffling. His unusual background as a magician and a mathematician led to his fascination with the mathematical study of coincidences. A recent book on mathematics and magic with Ron Graham has brought him further acclaim. Diaconis has received numerous prestigious awards and distinctions, among them a MacArthur Fellowship and membership in both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

The McKnight-Zame Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible by a generous donation from Dr. Jeffry Fuqua, who received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Miami in 1972 under the direction of Professor James McKnight. This lecture series is named in honor of both Professor McKnight and Professor Alan Zame, who was a close mentor of Dr. Fuqua while he was a student at the University of Miami.


Related Events: Professor Diaconis will be giving a Mathematics Colloquium on Friday March 29 at 5 PM and Stanford Statistics Professor Susan Holmes will be giving a Mathematics Colloquium on Thursday March 28 at 5 PM (see Colloquium Announcements).