Today marked out last 15.064 (Engineering Probability and Statistics) class with Prof. Arnold "Arnie" Barnett. He gave ten entertaining lectures on the chance we might listen and learn something. To commemorate this event, here are a number of selections from the master himself that I jotted down along with my class notes:
~On conditional Probability
"If you don't believe that unicorns exist, you're not going to agonize about whether a unicorn drives a toyota corolla now will you?"
"There are probability problems that have for centuries remained unsolved; they will not be on the quiz."
"Amnesia, you may recall, no pun intended, is a lack of memory."
"It was actually on the board, but due to the curvature of the earth, you didn't see it."
~On the mean aka 'expected value' of a set of numbers
"An expected value would seem to be a value you'd expect, but you wouldn't toss a die and expect 3.5, now would you?"
"Are you with me? Arnie, in a dull voice immitating an apathetic student: 'No, I'm against you!'"
"Given that probability is an inherently exciting subject, more assignments should give you that much more happiness."
"Let us do something beautiful."
"I make plenty of mistakes on the board, but this time, accidentally, I got it right."
"I was looking for a picture of a railroad tunnel and the only one I was able to steal was of a tunnel in Australia. [shows us normal looking photo of a railroad tunnel] Given that it's in Australia, you might think it's upside down..."
And the [online distribution calculator] will ask...
"My child, what is the mean of your curve? What is your sigma, and what would you like to know?"
Again, a discussion between Arnie and his internal apathetic student voice:
"That's the only proof for today."
"That's one too many"
"Oh, stop it!"
"I'm not going to go through algebra on the board. Some of you will find it boring. All of us will find it tragic."
~On a probability distribution he had just written out:
"Does this have a mean of 150? If you think so, then you partied too late!"
~On career moves
"Later on if you work as a consultant, you can't just say, 'I worked out the mathematics.' They won't trust you."
~On why he can't know the temp at a certain time in Singapore or Boston (parts of an example problem):
"I'm at the north pole trying to find penguins who might be customers for my book"
(Sorry Arnie, but I think the penguins are in the south pole. If you head north you'll have to look for literate polar bears or seals or something.)
"You might say, 'This is a graduate course - are you going to teach us anything?'"
"Actually, what I just said was wrong, but I couldn't understand it either."
"In the end we are all normal, which is kind of odd for me to say."
"Isn't that amazing? The correct answer is yes."
Thank you Arnie for teaching a class where P(you would say something witty) was high and uniformly distributed. We learned a lot and appreciated your approach. It was amazing. The answer is YES. Thanks again!