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Why (and How) Bayes' Rule Rules

If you are not already thinking as a Bayesian, maybe you should be. Applied practically everywhere from DNA decoding to homeland security, Bayes' rule appears to be a straightforward theorem.  It has been used to help crack the Enigma code, hunt down Russian submarines, and solve a host of other modern day problems.  By updating our initial beliefs with objective new information, we get a new and improved belief.  Bayes' rule seems to be an elegant statement about learning from experience, but for centuries, opponents viewed it as subjectivity run amok. This presentation explores the theorem and the obsessions surrounding it, and how it ignited one of the greatest scientific controversies ever.

Sharon BertschMcGrayne's recent book, The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy, will be available for review and purchase after the lecture.

Anyone outside NIST wishing to attend must be sponsored by a NIST employee and receive a visitor badge.

For more information, contact Kum Ham at 301-975-4203.

Colloquia are videotaped and available in the NIST Research Library.

Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, Author

Created October 3, 2011, Updated January 5, 2017