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Elegance in Software Systems

I often get the sense that people trained in the humanities have an image of computer scientists as Neanderthals with knuckles dragging on the ground. They see our mismatched clothes, and our taste for Jolt Cola instead of wine as the stigmata of the Geek; a downtrodden people.

However, the quest for beauty and elegance occupies a substantial place in the hearts and minds of software engineers. There can easily be two programs which solve exactly the same problem - one of which is beautiful and the other of which is ugly. And while beauty is only skin deep, ugly goes clean to the bone as far as software is concerned.  

I hope you have enjoyed this excerpt from Calculated Bets: Computers, Gambling, and Mathematical Modeling to Win!, by Steven Skiena, copublished by Cambridge University Press and the Mathematical Association of America.

This is a book about a gambling system that works. It tells the story of how the author used computer simulation and mathematical modeling techniques to predict the outcome of jai-alai matches and bet on them successfully -- increasing his initial stake by over 500% in one year! His method can work for anyone: at the end of the book he tells the best way to watch jai-alai, and how to bet on it. With humor and enthusiasm, Skiena details a life-long fascination with the computer prediction of sporting events. Along the way, he discusses other gambling systems, both successful and unsuccessful, for such games as lotto, roulette, blackjack, and the stock market. Indeed, he shows how his jai-alai system functions just like a miniature stock trading system.

Do you want to learn about program trading systems, the future of Internet gambling, and the real reason brokerage houses don't offer mutual funds that invest at racetracks and frontons? How mathematical models are used in political polling? The difference between correlation and causation? If you are curious about gambling and mathematics, odds are this is the book for you!

This book is available in both hardcover and paperback.

Steve Skiena