Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryProbability

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Step Away From Stepwise Regression (and Other Data Mining)

Stepwise regression, which is making a comeback, is just another form of HARKing — Hypothesizing After the Results are Known

There is a strong correlation between the number of lawyers in Nevada and the number of people who died after tripping over their own two feet. There are similarly impressive correlations between U.S. crude oil imports and the per capita consumption of chicken — and the number of letters in the winning word in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the number if people killed by venomous spiders. If you find these amusing (as I do), there are many more at the website Spurious Correlations. These silly statistical relationships are intended to demonstrate that correlation is not causation. But no matter how often or how loudly statisticians shout that warning, many people do not hear it. When there is a…

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Chinese fortune cookies. Cookies with empty blank inside for prediction words. Blue background.

We Love Baseball Because of — Not Despite — Lady Luck

With a big game approaching, emotions run high so let’s heed some statistical realities

As we approach the MLB All-Star Game in Los Angeles on July 19, we can be confident of one thing — most current league leaders will not do as well after the break as they did before it. Baseball broadcaster and National Sportswriter of the Year Peter Gammons was among the first to notice this. He wrote in 1989 that, of those baseball players who hit more than 20 home runs before the All-Star break, 90 percent pegged fewer than 20 after the break. Gammons concluded that there was a “second-half power outage,” perhaps because the sluggers got nervous about the possibility of breaking a home run record. More recently, sports forecaster Max Kaplan made a similar observation, which he…

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Several cards

The Holy Rollers: Christians Who Gamble for God

Not only have many successful players been Christians, probability theory was developed in part by a philosopher who became a devout Christian

This last instalment of the writeup of the podcasts with mathematician, computer scientist, engineer — and part-time gambler — Salvador Cordova looks at why and how Christians like himself gamble without cheating. Cordova was one of the crowdfunders of a film on the topic called Holy Rollers (2011). The host is fellow engineer and Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks in “Card Counting Strategies and Dangers” (podcast, June 23, 2022): https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/06/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-192-Sal-Cordova-Episode-4-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at 15:47 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: First of all, tell us what the movie was about, and then your involvement. Sal Cordova: It’s about one of the most successful card counting teams, blackjack teams.…

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policewoman holding arrested young woman while her partner talking on portable radio

Can AI Really Predict Crime a Week in Advance? That’s the Claim.

University of Chicago data scientists claim 90% accuracy for their algorithm using past data — but it’s hard to evaluate

The University of Chicago recently announced to great fanfare that, Data and social scientists from the University of Chicago have developed a new algorithm that forecasts crime by learning patterns in time and geographic locations from public data on violent and property crimes. The model can predict future crimes one week in advance with about 90% accuracy. University of Chicago Medical Center, “Algorithm Predicts Crime a Week in Advance, but Reveals Bias in Police Response” at Newswise (June 28, 2022) Many thought immediately of the 2002 movie Minority Report, in which three psychics (“precogs”) visualize murders before they occur, thereby allowing special PreCrime police to arrest would-be assailants before they can commit them. Have these University of Chicago researchers made…

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A group of people playing gambling in a casino

Gambling: When advantage players team up, dealer beware!

On the other hand, the movie industry has made a good thing from films of the legendary exploits

Gambling has got to be a slam dunk exciting premise for films. Once again, mathematician, computer scientist, engineer — and part-time gambler — Salvador Cordova joins fellow engineer and Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks to talk about gambling and probability — how hard math types (advantage players) like himself have beaten the odds without cheating. And, this time, they discuss how their skills while working together can wind up as a movie. From Robert J. Marks in Card Counting Strategies and Dangers (podcast): https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/06/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-192-Sal-Cordova-Episode-4-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at 00:23 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Have you ever taken advantage of your skills embedding with other people? … Sal…

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Probability: Now for the Basic Arithmetic of Card Counting…

The advantage player who dresses like a bum (or worse) has it all worked out, in part with the help of a computer at home

In “Can a good hustler count cards like a computer?” (podcast), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continues his discussion of card counting techniques with gambling ace Salvador Cordova, also a mathematician and engineer. An “advantage player,” Cordova made his living, in part, by beating the casinos from about 2005 through 2014. Note: This podcast involves a fair amount of discussion of specific numbers so the partial transcript below may be especially useful: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/06/Mind-Matters-Episode-191-Sal-Cordova-Episode-3-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at approximately 12:00 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: That’s the card counting system you use, Omega II? Sal Cordova: Right. If you see an ace or an eight, you just add zero…

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Croupier hands dealing cards on t blackjack poker table, gambling table with cards and chips

Can You Really Be a Card Counter Without Resorting to Magic?

Math nerd (and successful gambler) Salvador Cordova explains how card counters improve their odds in blackjack

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is back withSalvador Cordova, mathematician, engineer — and gambling ace. In previous episodes, they discussed why most players lose and how “advantage players” — those who understand the game, the players, the management, and the mathematical probabilities — sometimes clean out casinos. Of course, they also sometimes get kicked out, as has happened to Cordova, and new rules and precautions ensue. And, doubtless, new ways are found around them. In this new podcast episode, “Can a good hustler count cards like a computer?”, Cordova says a bit more about how the pros improve their odds from pure chance by card counting. He made his living, inpart, that way from about 2005 through 2014.…

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Croupier behind gambling table in a casino

Can Casinos Ban Customers Who Might Get TOO “Lucky”?

Sal Cordova was good enough at card counting that his photo was circulated and casino nabbed his driver’s licence…

In a recent podcast, “When the house can’t win the game, it will change the rules” (June 9, 2022), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his discussion with mathematician, computer scientist, and engineer Salvador Cordova on the mathematics of gambling — who wins, who loses, and why. Last week, we looked at the struggle between the casino and the “advantage player” who knows very well how the system works and spots its weaknesses. But now, what about banning a suspiciously “lucky” would-be customer outright? Here’s what happened to Sal Cordova: https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/06/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-190-Sal-Cordova-Episode-2-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at roughly 11:10 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Sal Cordova: One of the better things is that…

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Handsome man playing in casino

The Struggle Between Casinos and Advantage Players

The scene is enlivened by assorted other characters who use romance to help in the struggle for a big win. Sal Cordova explains

In a recent podcast, “When the house can’t win the game, it will change the rules” (June 9, 2022), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his discussion with mathematician, computer scientist, and engineer Salvador Cordova on the mathematics of gambling — why the odds are stacked against the gambler — or, depending on a gambler’s skill and knowledge of the circumstances, maybe they aren’t… https://mindmatters.ai/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/06/Mind-Matters-News-Episode-190-Sal-Cordova-Episode-2-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at approximately 00:31 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow below. Marks and Cordova ended Episode 1 by discussing the famous advantage player Don Johnson who cleaned out Atlantic City for tens of millions of dollars in 2011. What was his secret? Sal Cordova: He…

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Change Chance

The Salem Hypothesis: Why Engineers View the Universe as Designed

Not because we're terrorists or black-and-white thinkers, as claimed. A simple computer program shows the limits of creating information by chance

In the fun-filled world of internet debate between creationists and evolutionists, we encounter the Salem Hypothesis: Creationists tend to be engineers. Many explanations have been offered for this phenomenon (apparently named after Talk Origins contributor Bruce Salem): engineers are closet terrorists creationists are trying to protect their fragile beliefs a desire to exert authority engineers like simple black and white answers There’s a reason internet forums are not known for flattering character analysis! Anyhow, the true reason for the Salem Hypothesis is summed up in this graph. Read on to find out why. Engineers are more likely to be creationists because they are familiar with what it takes to design complex things for specific tasks. Which is exactly what we…