Persi Diaconis

Persi DiaconisPersi Diaconis
The Department is pleased to celebrate it's 40th anniversary with three lectures by magician and statistician Persi Diaconis. Persi Diaconis is the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics, Stanford University.

Among the highlights of his research is pioneering work on the speed of convergence of Markov chains to equilibrium, a rapidly growing field with numerous applications to statistics, physics and computer science. His dramatic and famous “cut-off phenomenon” has been nothing short of amazing. Together with David Freedman of Berkeley, Diaconis has made fundamental and dramatic contributions to Bayesian statistics. But the impact of his contributions extend beyond probability and statistics.

He is particularly known for tackling mathematical problems involving randomness and randomization, such as coin flipping and shuffling playing cards. Professor Diaconis received the MacArthur Fellowship in 1979, and again in 1992 after the publication (with Dave Bayer) of a paper entitled "Trailing the Dovetail Shuffle to Its Lair" (a term coined by magician Charles Jordan in the early 1900s) which established rigorous results on how many times a deck of 52 playing cards must be riffle shuffled before it can be considered "random enough." Diaconis established that the deck gradually increases in randomness until seven shuffles, after which the thus-far experienced increase in randomness stops significantly increasing. At least seven shuffles, for reasons made precise in the paper, is what casinos should use.

As both a magician and a statistician, Diaconis has debunked with unusual authority much research on extra sensory perception and the paranormal, and has exposed several psychics.

To see the schedule of talks that will be given by Persi Diaconis, please visit the schedule of events page. A reception in honor of Persi Diaconis, which celebrates the Department's 40th anniversary and the College of Science Centennial, will follow the reception on Thursday, March 27th at 6:00pm in the Purdue Memorial Union, Anniversary Room.