21L.017 The Art of the Probable

Class Info

Examines literary texts and/or films in relation to the history of the idea of probability. Traces the growing importance of probability as a basic property of things and the world, as well as a measure of the reliability of our ideas and beliefs. Connects the development and use of probabilistic reasoning (e.g., in the lottery and in statistics) with literary and cultural concerns regarding the rationality of belief, risk and uncertainty, free will and determinism, chance and fate. Discussion of the work of scientific and philosophical pioneers of probabilistic thought (e.g., Pascal, Leibniz, Bernoulli, Laplace) in conjunction with works by Shakespeare, Voltaire, H. G. Wells, Pynchon and Stoppard, among others.

This class has no prerequisites.

21L.017 will be offered this semester (Spring 2017). It is instructed by S. Raman.

Lecture occurs 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM on Mondays in 5-232.

This class counts for a total of 12 credits. This class counts as a HASS H. This class counts as a CI-H.

In the Spring 2016 Subject Evaluations, 21L.017 was rated 5.7 out of 7.0. You can find more information on MIT OpenCourseWare at the The Art of the Probable: Literature and Probability site or on the 21L.017 Stellar site.

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