SC 209 – I’LL TAKE THAT BET! Balancing Risk and Benefit: The Human Side of Science. Class presentations available for viewing.

How often do you consider the odds when you are playing poker, taking out insurance, making investments, or choosing among alternative medical treatments? Do you make an important decision because it just feels right?  Methods for balancing risk against benefit have evolved over the centuries, ranging from intuition to very sophisticated mathematical systems. In this course, we will examine the history of how these probability-based methods developed, how they work, and how they can be applied to problems that we encounter in our lives

Wednesday, April 6: A film from the BBC series Horizons, Making Money the Easy Way, about how a team of MIT students applied mathematical principles to win in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, April 13: Uncertainty, risk and probability – fundamental definitions and concepts.

Class Presentation: Lecture 1A – Fundamental Definitions and Concepts

Wednesday, April 20: The history of risk from ancient Greece and Rome, and the contributions of Fermat, Pascal, Bernoulli and Gauss up through the 19th century.

Class Presentation: Lecture 2A – The History of Risk from Ancient Greece and Rome through the 19th Century

Wednesday, April 27: 20th century decision theory – structures for making risky decisions; how to value and use perfect and imperfect information in decision-making.

Class Presentation: Lecture 3A – 20th Century Decision Theory

Wednesday, May 4: Risk on Wall Street – how risk is managed (or not!) in the world of investments; modern portfolio theory.

Class Presentation: Lecture 4A – Risk on Wall Street

Presenter: Howard Mirowitz, MBA, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, is retired from the world of high tech business development and venture capital, and is now a community volunteer and amateur mathematician and musician. He has also taught courses in new product development at the UCI Merage School of Business and is a favorite on mathematics and scientific topics for OLLI.

Developers: John Bush and Larry Wayne


Wednesdays, April 6, 13, 20, 27, and May 4

2:00 – 4:00 PM



Woodbridge Onken Classroom


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: