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Last Updated: Jan 10th, 2011 - 11:11:15

Reviews - Books  

A Mathematician at the Ballpark - Review
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Aug 19, 2007, 18:59 PST

A Mathematician at the Ballpark is an accessible math book that leads the reader on a intersting journey through the mathematical odds and probabilities of the game of baseball.

Anyone who has ever struggled to learn the ins and outs of baseball statistics will appreciate the way Ken Ross simplifies the math behind the numbers. Ample step by step examples both within the baseball arena and out in the real world, help to clarify equations. When examples in baseball are not sufficient, he gives examples from the real world. An example is conditional probabilities, which involved future unknown outcomes and are based on past performance. Apparently the outcome would be out of date by the time the book hit print, so the author uses examples involving cancer and smoking, and AIDS testing, two rather sobering examples.

A major complaint I have with the book, is that such a large portion of it is devoted to betting. It seems as though there are enough statistics and math based questions within the game of baseball that it wasn't necessary to go into this more questionable side of the game.

I would not recommend this book to kids because of the heavy emphasis on betting. It is a shame this is the case, since the other sections of the book would be helpful to many kids who are fascinated by the game, but weak on math. However, for adults, especially those involved in fantasy leagues, this is an excellent book to help you through the odds and statistics of the game.

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