The Theory That Would Not Die
In the first-ever account of Bayes' rule for general readers, Sharon Bertsch McGrayne explo...more
According to the author, Bayes' rule is the greatest mathematical equation/formula/thought process in the history of hist...more
However, I did not find this book well-written at all. It's just not an exciting read - and i...more
Bayes' Rule is a mathematical formula that allows one to calculate a conditional probability (such as the probability that a woman has breast cancer given that she has a postive mammogram). It has many useful attributes, such as allowing one to updates ones estimates of a probability as you obtain new information, and can be adapted to deal with such basically non-numerical forms of information as expert opinion. One can also use it to estimate the probability of events that have not happened,...more
1) The depth to which a particular example was taken was highly variable. Some things were merely mentioned while others were reviewed in great detail. The best chapters explaining the applications of Bayes' Theorem occurred 2/3rds of the way through the book, well after the explanation would have...more
But I can't exactly fault the author. I doubt there is much market for a popular explanation of Bayesian sta...more
By giving us the life of Bayes, the childhood of Laplace , ... , I think the author is trying to force the book to have a narrative, but I doubt that many people buying books about mathematical theories are interested in the minor details of the mathematicians' lives. This type of writing would be bad enough if the importance of Bayesian analysis were clearly explained, but it isn't. For instance, in...more
Perhaps it was my poor showing in statistics during my college days. Perhaps I wanted to make up for my mistake of signing up for a course like stats that had class on Friday afternoons. But I thought this book could be interesting, despite the somewhat dry core subject.
The book did little for me...more
The Bayesian controversy starts, of course, with the interpretation of "priors,"...more
There were some interesting examples of how Bayes was used, but the examples were too cursory to get a good sense of how it was done. Instead it mentions a problem, asserts Bayes was used, and talks about the happy outcome. This lack of details left me somewhat wanting to know more, so I ordered two b...more
Bayes' Rule allows you to "learn" by updating your (prior) degree of belief of something (i.e. probability of finding a sunken ship in a certain part of the ocean) given new information (i.e. a captain's log) in order to obtain knowledge in a "posterior" belie...more
On the whole, the book feels dumbed down. The formula itself only shows up twice in the entire book. While there are lots of stories of its application, more details on the mechanics would have been appreciated. Maybe this is an impossible wish, since the inclusion of any real amount...more
Alas, that story, at least as presented in this book, turned out to be not quite so exciting. Except for the insights into Laplace's involvement, and in particular the interesting sections on Alan Turing's work, I found this to be a rather lifel...more
The pro's: The author has done a phenomenal job at capturing and richly detailing the very "large" personalities that have championed (or condemned) the use of Bayes' Rule through the centuries, amidst a little-known and long-simmering war that has persisted between statistical Bayesians and frequentists since the concept was first brought forward. T...more
The ebb and flow in belief in the theorem over the course of 150 years is interesting. Applying Bayes theorem requires a prior probability, and this is often poorly know...more
If you're at all interested in the history of mathematics, this is a surprisingly exciting story. I expected a rather dull and academic history; that is NOT what this book is.
My only complaint is that I would have loved more and harder example...more
Although i enjoyed reading the historical content of bayes' rule, i feel that the writer did not present the content in a "ingestible" way. i felt as though it was like reading through a school text book and felt more like a chore rather than leisure.