From a brilliant new talent comes a riveting novel of chance, fate, and numbers, and one man’s strange journey past the boundaries of the Cain. Improbable by Adam Fawer – book cover, description, publication history. Adam Fawer (born in New York City) is an American Novelist. Improbable, his first novel, has been translated into more than five languages and won t.

Author: Akiramar Tygorisar
Country: United Arab Emirates
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Life
Published (Last): 16 April 2007
Pages: 165
PDF File Size: 4.21 Mb
ePub File Size: 17.54 Mb
ISBN: 780-3-29468-830-6
Downloads: 62558
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Shabei

A probability expert suffering from epilepsy with hints of schizophrenia is in over his head with gambling debts to the Russian improbwble and a beautiful, renegade CIA agent before discovering that he has the ability to predict the future. A running subplot is the mathematical aspects of determinism i. Laplace’s famous claim that the future can be predicted precisely by anyone with sufficient ability to calculate and sufficient information.

To most mathematicians, the downfall of Laplace’s Demon was the realization that the “sufficient information” necessary to predict the future is impossible to obtain in practice due to the sensitive dependence that is a hallmark of chaos theory.

Book Review: Improbable

However, this book seems to tie it into the philosophical question of “free will” which I have put in quotes because I don’t think anyone has ever really defined what it meansa Jungian sort of common unconsciousnesss, and the foundational questions of quantum mechanics though the author’s understanding of modern physics seems to be rather superficial and overly influenced by metaphysical hype.


I like the scenes showing the protagonist as a math professor.

For instance, his discussion of “minimizing error” gives the impression that the expected value is the one which occurs most often. In fact, the expected value may not be a possible outcome at all. Rather, it is the number for which the differences between it and the outcomes is minimized.

Adam Fawer (Author of Improbable)

It fits in well with what he was trying to say I also thought the idea — that someone connected to all of humanity’s unconscious thought for all time could use the information to predict the future to some high degree of certainty — was interesting and made for a fun book.

However, I’m not sure it makes sense if you think about it.

It is not clear how he sometimes knows things that no person qdam like the order of cards in faweer shuffled deck if his source of information is this common human unconsciousness. Moreover, Fawer ends up with some rather strange blend of the determinism of Laplace and the popular notion of “free will”. I mean, the whole point of Laplace is that if things are deterministic then all that you need is enough information and processing power to predict the future.


But, once we’re supposed to believe that human decision is somehow non-deterministic, I would think the whole thing would fall apart and the ability to do anything like that would be lost. I’ve already complained about Fawer’s physics. But his biology is perhaps even worse. Both of his claims regarding evolution that it is necessarily non-deterministic and that it cannot explain instinctive behavior are ridiculous. Fortunately, these little annoyances to not spoil the book. It is an engrossing thriller with some clever ideas and quite a bit of nice mathematics thrown in as well.


The book’s official website also has a Flash game that you can play which quizes you on and teaches you some basic probability! Contributed by kenn Improbable by Adam Fawer is a great read. It’s all fiction, leaning to SF but a good story where probability is core to the lead characters success. It’s a quick, fun read.

Buy this work of mathematical fiction and read reviews at amazon. This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.

Factoring Humanity by Robert J.