# probability

Did you know that you can't average averages? Or that Paris is rainier than London ... but it rains more in London than in Paris? Andrew Stickland explores the dangers that face the unwary when using a single number to summarise complex data.
A biologist has developed a blood test for detecting a certain minor abnormality in infants. Obviously if you have blood samples from 100 children, you could find out which children are affected by running 100 separate tests. But mathematicians are never satisfied by the obvious answer. Keith Ball uses information theory to explain how to cut down the number of tests significantly, by pooling samples of blood.
Human beings are famously prone to error, and proof-readers are, after all, only human. But who picks up the errors a proof-reader misses? John D. Barrow challenges readers to estimate the errors that aren't found from the errors that are.
Human beings are famously prone to error, and proof-readers are, after all, only human. But who picks up the errors a proof-reader misses? John D. Barrow challenges readers to estimate the errors that aren't found from the errors that are.
If your team scores first in a football match, how likely is it to win? And when is it worth committing a professional foul? John Haigh shows us how to use probability to answer these and other questions, and explains the implications for the rules of the game.
Last October, two mathematicians won £1m when it was revealed that they were the first to solve the Eternity jigsaw puzzle. It had taken them six months and a generous helping of mathematical analysis. Mark Wainwright meets the pair and finds out how they did it.
Actuarial science began as the place where two branches of mathematics meet: compound interest and observed mortality statistics. Financial planning for the future is therefore rooted firmly in the past. John Webb takes us through some of the mathematics involved, introducing us to some of the colourful characters who led the way.

Are you going to be a good customer for your bank? This might not worry you, but it certainly worries your bank! Banks would like to be able to predict both who their most profitable clients are likely to be, and which potential clients are most likely to be unreliable or a poor risk.

"God does not play dice" Albert Einstein once said. Since then the undisputable successes of the quantum theory have convinced all but a handful of contemporary physicists that God does indeed play dice. The question some  are now asking is why does God play dice?

• Want facts and want them fast? Our Maths in a minute series explores key mathematical concepts in just a few words.