Dear Richard,

**"The most important questions of life are, for the most part,**

really only problems of probability.--Pierre Simon Laplace
I spent several years as a Ph.D. math major at MIT. I never

completed my Ph.D. thesis, but even so, I know more about mathematics

than a Harvard astrophysicist, an EXXON engineer, and a Cornell

physicist, and probably more than a Polaroid mathematician. And I'm

telling you that probablity and statistics are important and valid

branches of mathematics.

Many books have been written on the subject, "How to lie with

statistics." I myself have criticized such stuff on my web site.

But that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with statistics. I've

seen people lie with calculus too, but that doesn't mean that

calculus isn't a branch of mathematics.

If you want to find out something about probability and statistics as

branches of mathematics, a good place to start is to google the

phrase "probability space." Probability spaces are the fundamental

mathematical constructs that lead to the theory of probability. I

just did that and was led to the site

http://www.math.uah.edu/stat/prob/index.xhtml . That's where I got

the quote above from Laplace.

That site also provided the following biography of Laplace:

"Laplace, Pierre Simon (1749-1827)

Pierre Simon Laplace was born in Normandy, France in 1749, and was

educated at the military school in Beaumont.

Laplace's greatest scientific contribution was the application of

Newton's universal law of gravitation to the motion of the planets.

He also developed an early cosmological theory of the origin of the

solar system. Laplace wrote

*Triaté de Céleste Méchanique*
(

*Treatise on Celestial Mechanics*), published in five volumes

from 1799 to 1825, and

*Exposition de Systeme de Monde*
(

*Explanation of the World System*) in 1796.

Laplace contributed greatly to the early mathematical theory of

probability. He wrote

*Theorie Analytique des Probabilites*,

(

*Analytical Theory of Probability*) in 1812 and

*Philosophical Essay on Probabilities* in 1814. One of his

contributions was an improvement on the normal approximation to the

binomial distribution, that had been derived by Abraham

DeMoivre."