Academics, Campus Life, News

Mathematician makes visit to campus

Famed mathematician Persi Diaconis captured the attention of UM students, faculty and guests by explaining how coincidences can affect where we live and with whom.

A jam-packed audience filled the Wilder Auditorium last month to hear the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University. The talk was part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ annual McKnight-Zame Distinguished Lecture Series.

Diaconis’ presentation ranged from a review of the early works of Freud and Jung todiscussing tools for thinking rationally about why odd things happen to sharing personal experiences from his investigations of physics.

“This is a talk about coincidences, and everybody in this room has had some weird thing happen to them that makes you think, ‘That was weird, that doesn’t feel as if it just happened by luck,’ ” Diaconis said in his opening remarks.

Diaconis’ audience seemed to get a kick out of his witty humor when he spoke about psychiatrist Carl Jung’s book, “Synchronicity.”

“Those of you who are old enough may remember that synchronicity is the title of a Police album, and I must have listened to that 15 times trying to get a good line for this talk,” he said.

Diaconis went on to demonstrate, through quantitative thinking, that coincidences are not all that surprising.

Junior John Anderson, who attended the lecture, liked what he heard.

“Diaconis put a lot into perspective,” he said. “He used examples like birthdays, combinations and lottery numbers to better explain how while randomness may occur, there is usually a distortion of results.”

“‘Coincidences’ structure in the world around us are things that our survival depends on, and I think we are hard-wired to overreact to coincidences,” Diaconis said. “My image is, primitive man in the jungle, and there is a bush over there, and there is something with stripes maybe, and maybe he just needs to get out of there and not calculate the odds of his survival.”

Diaconis concluded by saying his quest for studying coincidences is one he has been on for a long time and he was thankful to be able to share it with his audience.

Members of the audience were equally thankful for him coming to campus.

“I really enjoyed Diaconis’ lecture,” senior Andrea Jurado said. “He is a true inspiration to students like myself who have a thirst to understand fully the world around us.”

April 5, 2013

Reporters

Elisa Miller


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Darrell Langham, the redshirt junior receiver who caused an uproar among Miami Hurricanes fans the p ...

This news release just in from the University of Miami, another impressive class about to be inducte ...

The University of Miami men’s basketball team got a welcome dose of good news on Monday night. Verno ...

After a disheartening week of practice injury-wise following the University of Miami’s victory at Fl ...

University of Miami’s highly-touted freshman Lonnie Walker, who had surgery for a torn right meniscu ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

A summer 2017 excursion unlike any other united a group of University of Miami students and faculty ...

Darrell Langham has been a hero twice this season, but his path to prominence has been a long one. ...

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame has announced the Class of 2018 inductees for the 50th A ...

Senior diver Wally Layland was recognized for her standout performance at the SMU Classic with ACC C ...

University of Miami freshman Lonnie Walker IV was among 20 players named to the watch list for the 2 ...

The Miami Hurricanes will begin preparation for the 2018 season when fall practice commences Wed., O ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.