Pages: 288
Imprint: Oneworld


The Maths and Myths of Coincidences

Joseph Mazur

Discover why the odds are better than you'd think in this mathematical tribute to the great coincidences of life
9781780748993 (2 Jun 2016)
RRP £12.99

The Book

Imagine this: you are browsing used-books in a shop hundreds of miles from home when you come across a copy of Moby Dick, which you remember reading as a child. When you open it, you find your own name on the inside cover. 

What are the chances? This is the question we ask ourselves when we encounter coincidences that are scarcely believable amidst the ordinariness of our everyday lives. But here's the thing - if there is any likelihood that something could happen, no matter how small, it is bound to happen to someone at some time. 

Combining a fascinating investigation into the true nature of chance with anecdotes of astonishing coincidences from around the world, Joseph Mazur proves the inevitability of the unexpected. A person can win the lottery four times, a driver you haven't booked can stand holding up your name in airport arrivals and dreams really can come true. A must-read for maths enthusiasts and avid storytellers alike, Fluke makes the improbable wonderfully possible. 

Additional Information

Pages 288
Imprint Oneworld

About the Author

Joseph Mazur is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Marlboro College in Vermont. He is the author of four popular mathematics books, including Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math which was number four on The Guardian's Top 10 Popular Mathematics Books of All Time. 


‘Mazur uses probability to strip chance events of some of their mystery.'

- Guardian

‘Always entertaining and frequently insightful, Fluke is never less than thought-provoking.'

- Amir Alexander, Wall Street Journal

‘With charm and clarity, Joe Mazur leads us through the strange terrain of chance and surprise... A terrific read, and a welcome antidote to superstition and gullibility.'

- Ian Stewart, author of Professor Stewart’s Incredible Numbers

‘The chances are very slim that you'd ever read this blurb. A simple-minded calculation puts the odds at about 50,000 to one against. Yet... here you are. How weird is this seemingly far-fetched coincidence? Well, dear reader, you've picked up the right book to answer that question.'

- Charles Seife, author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

‘Joe Mazur's Fluke walks the reader, hand in steady hand, through the weird and dangerous landscape of extreme probability, distinguishing cause from correlate, and phenomenon from mere coincidence.'

- Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

‘An exciting addition to the ranks of books exploring the mysteries of chance and coincidence in the vein of The Black Swan and The Improbability Principle.'

- David J. Hand, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College London and author of The Improbability Principle