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DAVID HAND is an emeritus professor of mathematics and senior research investigator at Imperial College, London, a former president of the Royal Statistical Society and chief scientific advisor to Winton Capital, Europe’s most successful algorithmic trading hedge fund. He is the author of seven books including two popular titles (The Information Generation: How Data Rule Our World (Oneworld, 2006) and Statistics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008)). He is also the coauthor or editor/coeditor of several other academic titles, has published some 300 scientific papers and written popular articles for publications ranging from Mathematics Today to the Guardian.

Featured titles


Why Incredibly Unlikely Things Keep Happening


An enlightening book – Jennifer Ouellette, THE NEW YORK TIMES


Very engaging… should be, in all probability, required reading for us all – John A. Adams, WASHINGTON POST

An ingenious introduction to probability that mixes counterintuitive anecdotes with easily digestible doses of statistics… Hand offers much food for thought – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


Lively and lucid… an intensely useful (as well as a remarkably entertaining) book… It can transform the way you read the newspaper, that’s for sure – SALON


Enlightening and entertaining… an erudite but utterly unpretentious guide… ably and assuredly demystifies an ordinarily intimidating subject – KIRKUS REVIEWS


In my experience, it is very rare to find a book that is both erudite and entertaining. Yet THE IMPROBABILITY PRINCIPLE is such a book. Surely this cannot be due to chance alone! – Hal R. Varian, chief economist, Google, and Emeritus Professor, University of California, Berkeley


An elegant, astoundingly clear and enjoyable combination of subtle statistical thinking and real-world events – Andrew Dilnot, coauthor of THE NUMBERS GAME

A penetrating look at why extraordinarily rare events happen so often – at why, in the words of the British mathematician  J. E. Littlewood, we should expect to experience miracles 'at the rate of a about one a month'.

At first glance, it sounds like a contradiction or paradox. If things are incredibly unlikely, how can they happen often, and why should we expect them to happen? Now, in a highly original work of synthesis aimed squarely at the general public, the eminent statistician David Hand answers these questions by weaving together various strands of probability into a unified explanation that he calls the improbability principle.


It is a book that will appeal not only to those who love stories about startling coincidences and extraordinarily rare events, but also to those who are interested in how a single bold idea links areas as diverse as gambling, the weather, airline disasters, creative writing and the origin of life and even the Universe. It's a book that will change your perspective on how the world works – and tell you what the Bible code and Shakespeare have in common, how to win the lottery, why Apple's song shuffling was made less random to seem more random, and why lightning does strike twice.


Publisher: Scientific American/Farrar, Straus & Giroux (US)/Bantam (UK)

Publication: 11 February 2014 (US)/27 February 2014 (UK)

Length: 288 pages


All rights available excluding:

UK & Commonwealth, US, Brazil (Companhia das Letras), China (Publishing House of Electronics Industry-Beijing Media Electronic Information), Germany (Beck), Italy (Rizzoli), Japan (Hayakawa), Korea (Gilbut), Netherlands (AmboAnthos), Poland (Foksal), Russia (AST), Taiwan (Locus)