Coursera Probability Course and Recommended Probability Book

Just completed the Coursera Probability Course by UPenn (University of Pennsylvania), lectured by Professor Santosh S. Venkatesh who is the author of the highly recommended book: The Theory of Probability: Explorations and Applications.

Coursera Review

The course isn’t very hard, it is very suitable for undergraduates and even high school students should be able to understand majority of the content. It actually overlaps with the A level syllabus in Singapore, and hence I would say that a 17-18 year old student would be able to grasp most of the concepts in this course.

The lecturer is very good at words, and his lectures are full of imagery and vivid descriptions. The homework is a little tricky, and hence would require some thought, even though the concepts tested are elementary (elementary in the sense that it doesn’t require calculus).

A sample of a tricky question is the “Six Saucer Question”: Six cups and saucers come in pairs: there are two cups and saucers that are red, white, and blue. If the cups are placed randomly onto the saucers (one each), find the probability that no cup is upon a saucer of the same color.

It is very tricky and to get it correct on the first try is a major accomplishment.

Overall, this Coursera Course is highly recommended, and students should try to take it the next time it comes out!


Exciting New Math Course at Probability, and Book by Eccentric Mathematician

Recently, I just finished my Coursera course on Cryptography, and I have started a brand new course on Probability. This is a rather introductory course on Probability, probably at the junior undergraduate level. However, looking at the course syllabus, later on in the course some deeper aspects of probability will be taught.

Welcome message from the Probability team:

Thank you for signing up for Probability!  This is a beguiling subject with a fascinating historical tradition and vibrant modern applications.  We are delighted that you are joining us in this journey of exploration.  And you are entitled to bask in the warm light of the realisation that you are one of the pioneers in a novel form of online learning!

Class has already begun, so please join us.  We are looking forward immensely to our journey together!

Best wishes,
The Probability Course Team

The course is based on the book by Professor Venkatesh: The Theory of Probability: Explorations and Applications. Rated 5/5 on Amazon, this book is a good read, and covers many aspects of probability theory.

Another new Math book on the international scene is Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure by the eccentric French Mathematician Cédric Villani who received the Fields’ Medal in 2010. It contains the story of his life,  his favorite songs, his love of manga, and the imaginative stories he tells his children.

Cédric Villani