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Probability in Physics

An Introductory Guide

  • Textbook
  • © 2019


  • Explains the use of probability in physics motivated by real physics examples throughout
  • Presents a modern approach to statistics, with a harmonised and simplified view of traditional and Bayesian approaches
  • Emerges from a one-semester twenty-lecture course taught to junior honours students
  • Aims to cover the role of probability anywhere in physics
  • Offers exercises and solutions

Part of the book series: Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics (ULNP)

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Table of contents (14 chapters)

  1. The Basics

  2. Frequency Distributions in the Physical World

  3. Probabilistic Inference: Reasoning in the Presence of Uncertainty

  4. Selected Topics


About this book

This textbook presents an introduction to the use of probability in physics, treating introductory ideas of both statistical physics and of statistical inference, as well the importance of probability in information theory, quantum mechanics, and stochastic processes, in a unified manner. The book also presents a harmonised view of frequentist and Bayesian approaches to inference, emphasising their complementary value. The aim is to steer a middle course between the "cookbook" style and an overly dry mathematical statistics style. The treatment is driven by real physics examples throughout, but developed with a level of mathematical clarity and rigour appropriate to mid-career physics undergraduates. Exercises and solutions are included.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

    Andy Lawrence

About the author

Andy Lawrence is the Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests are in Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), observational cosmology, survey astronomy, and e-science (the Virtual Observatory). He has been teaching an undergraduate course on Probability in Physics with a new angle. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and author of the Springer book Astronomical Measurement.

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