Scientific Program > Topic 6 > Session 6G >
Presentation 6G3. On the Use of Paradoxes in the Teaching of Probability

Talma Leviatan (Israel)


Presentation Abstract

Paradoxes have played an important role in the development of mathematics, as they brought upon clarification of basic concepts and introduction of new approaches. If used properly, paradoxes can play a useful role in the classroom as they provoke deeper thinking about the basic ideas of the theory.
There is something irresistible about a paradox, which lingers long after class is over. The first reaction usually is that of amusement mixed with confusion. These feelings can, if not dealt properly, develop into a feeling of insecurity when the conflict does not seem to be resolvable. But paradoxes can serve as a leverage to fruitful discussions and deeper understanding.

Probability theory offers a large variety of paradoxes. Some of them are (nowadays) interesting mainly from an historical point of view, as the theory has already been adapted to resolve what seemed to be a paradox at the time. Others actually hide in a very subtle and tricky way, common misconceptions. Some are real "mind boggling" and they reflect the not always intuitive nature of the probabilistic concepts.

In the talk several of those paradoxes will be introduced (and resolved!). We will also discuss the way the paradoxes are incorporated into class.


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