Articles appearing in other places

This page contains the text of articles which have appeared in newspapers and magazines, as well as links to articles on other people's websites.

A visualisation of the information in NHS Breast Cancer Screening leaflet


The current NHS Breast Screening leaflet contains some fairly complex information which can be summarised using the graphic below.

What is your 'effective age'?

How old are you?

You might, quite reasonably, calculate your chronological age as the time elapsed since you were born. But what is the effective age of your body?

Using expected frequencies when teaching probability

The July 2014 Mathematics Programmes of Study: Key Stage 4 (GCSE) specifies under Probability

{calculate and interpret conditional probabilities through representation using expected frequencies with two-way tables, tree diagrams and Venn diagrams}.

- the brackets and bold case means this comes under additional mathematical content to be taught to more highly attaining pupils.


30 minutes
Acute risks, such as riding a motorbike or going skydiving, may result in an accident - a natural unit for comparing such risks is the Micromort, which is a 1-in-a-million chance of sudden death, for some defined activity.

Visualising uncertainty

We have had a review paper published in Science called Visualising uncertainty about the future, although it primarily focuses on probability forecasts.

You may access the full paper by following the links below.

ESP and the significance of significance

A controversy about experiments in extra-sensory perception throws some light, and maybe some confusion, on the idea of statistical significance. This article discusses a common misinterpretation of the results of significance tests, and investigates some criticisms of significance tests in general.

Pure Randomness in Art

Random glassThis article is based on a talk I gave at the recent John Cage exhibition in Kettles Yard gallery in Cambridge. Cage is perhaps best known for his avant-garde music, particularly his silent 1952 composition 4′33″ but also for his use of randomness in “aleatory music”.

The Maths of Paul the “Psychic” Octopus

England’s performance in the World-Cup last summer was thankfully overshadowed by the attention given to Paul the Octopus, who was reported as making an unbroken series of correct predictions of match winners. Here we present a mathematical analysis of Paul’s performance in an attempt to answer the question that (briefly) gripped the world: was Paul psychic?

What are the chances of successful fertility treatment?

iconThe Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) recently launched their ‘Choose a Fertility Clinic’ website which provides a huge range of information about each clinic licenced by the HFEA, with a lot of fairly complex statistics. The website carefully avoids direct comparisons and any hint of a ‘league table’, but here we look at whether we can draw statistically-valid conclusions about whether some clinics, for whatever reason, really do provide higher chances of success than others.


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