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The Error of TruthHow History and Mathematics Came Together to Form Our Character and Shape Our Worldview$
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Steven J. Osterlind

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198831600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198831600.001.0001

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Rare Events

Rare Events

Chapter:
(p.181) Chapter 11 Rare Events
Source:
The Error of Truth
Author(s):

Steven J. Osterlind

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198831600.003.0011

This chapter shows that the quantification worldview was not spreading uniformly across even the developed world. In the United States, the spread was slow, because nearly everyone was consumed with making a new country. It was also slow in Russia, because of the dominance of the Romanoff family and their wars, and it did not spread to the Middle East, because it was preoccupied with warring and had almost no widespread education system. In England, an engineer named Charles Babbage contributed to bringing a mindset of quantification to ordinary people, through his Difference Engines Nos. 1 and 2, possibly the first programmable computers with CPUs. In probability theory, statistical “rare events” are described, and how Siméon Poisson made them into a specialized distribution is explained simply, as is his Poisson distribution, illustrated by the famous example of Prussian horse kicks. Further advancements included the invention of Fourier transforms.

Keywords:   Charles Babbage, Difference Engine, Poisson, Poisson distribution, Prussian horse kick, Fourier transform

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