Stanford University - Walker-Ames Distinguished Visitor
Public Walker-Ames Lecture
Professor Diaconis was born into a family of professional musicians. At 14, he was invited by Dai Vernon, "the greatest magician in the US," to join him on tour. Diaconis dropped out of school, quit his violin lessons at Julliard, and left home without telling his parents. At 16, he struck out on his own, living a "very colorful" life as a magician for eight years. Then one day Diaconis happened to visit a bookstore with a friend who recommended a probability book by Feller. Diaconis bought it and found that he couldn't read it. So he enrolled in NY City College. Two and a half years later, he graduated with a degree in mathematics and was accepted into the statistics program at Harvard. Three years later he earned a PhD and joined the faculty of the Statistics Department at Stanford where he continues to teach today.
Coincidences amaze us. Diaconis will review early work by Jung and Freud and also show how sometimes a bit of quantitative thinking can show that things aren't so surprising after all.