Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Life of the Party

Being a Math/CS professor is generally the kiss of death at any large social event. But thanks to the movie 21, for one short moment, I was the center of attention.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but apparently there is a scene where an MIT Professor (played by Kevin Spacey) uses the Monty Hall problem to help choose his blackjack team. So I helped explain why it makes sense to switch doors.

The movie had more math, basically simple card counting techniques to give an advantage at the blackjack tables. Any movie like this that glorifies mathematicians help our community, even if they just use math to win money at casinos.

In fact, our family was invited to another party earlier this week where the guest of honor was one of the members of the original blackjack team that the movie was based on. Being a mathematician is cool again, at least for a couple of weeks.


  1. Why is it that most people have such poor intuition for probability?

    And even people who study probability seriously can have problems. Paul Erdos got the Monty Hall problem wrong.

    Maybe students should learn probability starting in elementary school?

  2. The movies GOOD WILL HUNTING
    made math ... well, not
    quite cool, but at least
    talked about. NUMB3RS
    may also have that affect.
    People do ask me if the
    Math on NUMB3RS is real.
    Depends how you define

  3. what happened to the awesome computational complexity post on 12 fingers?