Statistical Science

Lewis Carroll's "Pillow Problems": On the 1993 Centenary

Eugene Seneta

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We examine a few key problems and their solutions from the 13 probability problems. Some are badly posed with imaginative but incorrect solutions; other are difficult, interesting and with correct solution. The work of Carroll (C. L. Dodgson) is used to illustrate the nature, standing and understanding of probability within the wider English mathematical community of his time. Additionally, a probabilistic controversy in which he was involved is discussed, and an Appendix presents a Markov chain formulation of published and unpublished problems and discussion of a further unpublished problem. One focus of the paper is the intuitive difficulty in distinguishing between events of probability zero and impossible events, and the teaching of such probability-based difficulties.

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Statist. Sci., Volume 8, Number 2 (1993), 180-186.

First available in Project Euclid: 19 April 2007

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English probability urn models prior distribution Bayes' theorem sample space uncountability impossible event Kolmogorov's axioms Markov chains


Seneta, Eugene. Lewis Carroll's "Pillow Problems": On the 1993 Centenary. Statist. Sci. 8 (1993), no. 2, 180--186. doi:10.1214/ss/1177011011.

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