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Mathematical Treasure: Whitworth’s Choice and Chance

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

William Whitworth (1840-1905) was an English mathematician and Church of England clergyman. His teaching career included a brief stint as a professor of mathematics at Queen’s College, Liverpool. His book, Choice and Chance (1867), was compiled from lectures given to young ladies at Queen’s College in 1866. The book was extremely popular; the second edition appeared in 1870 and the book eventually went through ten printings.

Title page for Choice and Chance, 2nd Edition, 1870 by William Whitmore

Whitworth explained the objectives underlying his text in the preface:

First page of Preface for Choice and Chance, 2nd Edition, 1870 by William Whitmore

Second page of Preface for Choice and Chance, 2nd Edition, 1870 by William Whitmore

The brief Table of Contents shows that, in keeping with the work’s title, the contents are arranged into two primary chapters, “Choice” (basic combinatorics) and “Chance” (basic probability). These chapters are followed by appendices (most added after the first edition) that introduce algebraic notation as well as additional examples and applications.

Table of Contents for Choice and Chance, 2nd Edition, 1870 by William Whitmore

The images above were obtained through the courtesy of the University of California Libraries. The book may be viewed in its entirety in the Internet Archive.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Whitworth’s Choice and Chance," Convergence (August 2017)

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