Lecture 'Did Blaise Pascal and Christiaan Huygens provide a game-theoretic foundation for probability?'

For whom
Students, Employees, Alumni
13-12-2018 from 16:00 to 18:30
Paviljoen Charles Vandenhove, Centrum voor Architectuur en Kunst, Rozier 1, 9000 Gent
Prof. Gert de Cooman, faculteit Ingenieurswetenschappen en Architectuur, vakgroep ELIS
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The originality of Pascal's, Fermat's, and Huygens's work on mathematical probability in the 1650s is often exaggerated. Fermat's method of dividing stakes, which counted equally likely cases, had already been part of Europe's learned tradition for centuries.

The game-theoretic foundations provided by Pascal and Huygens had their own antecedents in the tradition of commercial arithmetic. The success of Pascal's and Huygens's foundations for Fermat's methods can be seen as a merger of the learned and commercial traditions, set against the backdrop of the larger merger represented by the 17th century's use of algebra to reconstruct the mathematics of the ancients.

This success is renewed by the modern game-theoretic foundation for probability, which supports modern measure-theoretic methods just as Pascal's and Huygens's foundations supported Fermat's methods.