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Mathematical Sciences Colloquium by Distinguished speaker Nozer D. Singpurwalla
Friday, Apr 28, 2017
2 p.m. - 3 p.m. Location: JO 4.614

Nozer D. Singpurwalla

City University of Hong Kong

Subjective Probability: Its Content, Axioms, and Acrobatics

What sense can one make of the claim that “the probability of a nuclear accident is .003?” Surprisingly, the answer is difficult because there are many interpretations of quantified uncertainty, each burdened by its own baggage. This expository talk is a historical journey, which traces development of the topic from Cardano (1501 -1575) to Kolmogorov (1956), with stops at Bayes, La Place, Ramsey, Keynes, Venn, Borel, de Finetti and Popper.

An interpretation that is immune to logical attack is that of Subjective (or Personal) Probability – to Richard Jeffrey “The Real Thing!” It is a corporate state of mind rather than an innate verifiable property of the real world. This viewpoint, now at the very doorstep of Quantum Physics, is defended by notions of coherence and rationality, which is an elaborate system of axioms about preferences, consequences and acts, which lead to the claim that pure probability cannot be isolated from preference. Hidden therein is the axiom of acrobatics (my term) which operationalizes subjective probability and levels the playing field.  

This talk is expository, open to engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and social biological scientists, and does not call for any background in the technical aspects of probability.



Nozer D. Singpurwalla is currently a Chair Professor at The City University of Hong Kong with appointments in the Engineering and the Business Schools.  He is a Fellow of the ASA, the IMS, the AAAS, and an elected member of the ISI. His current interests are in probability modeling, filtering, the foundational aspects of Bayesian inference, and the probabilistic aspects of quantum theory.


Sponsored by the Department of Mathematical Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas and joint with Southern Methodist University

Contact Info:
Viswanath Ramakrishna, 972-883-6873
Questions? Email me.

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