Book Review: The Drunkard’s Walk

The Book ‘The Drunkard’s Walk-How randomness rules our lives’ is written by Leonard Mlodinow.

Uncertainty, randomness, chance or luck is an essential part of our lives.

Yet we understand very little of it. Of course, in India, we attribute good luck or bad outcomes to karma or “God’s wish.”

The book tries to explain randomness using mathematics,probability and statistics.

Written in a humorous way, the Book explains with numerous instances how these basic tools can help us understand randomness.

One example which strikes me is the example of a Frenchwoman called Jeanne Calment

When she was 90 years of age, she made what is possibly the first reverse mortgage deal.

She stuck a deal with a 47 year old lawyer that in return for a small monthly payment, he will get her apartment on her death with no further payments.

The lawyer thought this was a great deal.The average life expectancy in France was 80 years and obviously, this lady had overstayed her welcome on Planet Earth by 10 years.

He took the offer, not realizing that the relevant issue was not whether she should die in minus 10 years but that here life expectancy,given that she had already made it to ninety, was about six more years.

The lawyer kept making the payments and waited for Jeanne to die.

The result was not what he expected.

Jeanne passed away at the age of 122.The lawyer had died long before that !

If the lawyer had known Baye’s theory, he would not have taken up this deal.

Do buy the book if interested in probabilities, randomness and luck.

One reply on “Book Review: The Drunkard’s Walk”

Thanks for sharing this! That incident was hilarious, to say the least! It sure got to be destiny or God’s will (as we attribute often) or random (for those who dont believe the super-natural), because the probability of a 90 year old living to be 122 combined with a 47 year old dying before that must be so negligible.
Maybe the lady can be hailed for her intuition or her connect with the super-natural, or Death-gods!

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