Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Knowing the odds

It is some time since I last wrote about maths and the last blog entry happened to contain some support for maths as an academic subject free from any practical use. However there are so many practical uses. Someone told me that they did not see a practical use for algebra. I would say that clear thinking is one response but I suppose you could say that about any subject that has no obvious practical connection.

You need to get the right change. You need to know that the amount you are being charged is the right amount. You need to know the odds when you place a bet. It may be that we generally get the right change. It may be that we can trust people to charge us the right amount and it may be that we can place a bet for the fun of it with the full knowledge that the bookmaker should win. But with maths we do all these things with our eyes open.

When Noel Edmonds asks if there is a deal the contestant asks for advice from the other contestants. I admit that the judgement is not purely a mathematical one, but so little of that advice relates to maths and it should.

We know that the bookmaker has stacked the odds in their favour, but with mathematical support we can enjoy a bet (or not) knowing the odds. I'd bet that you don't find many with maths degrees at gamblers anonymous.

That sums it up