Saturday, November 5, 2011

15 Brilliant Math Geeks Who Outsmarted the System

Geeks rule the world these days, with tech geniuses and statistics-savvy entrepreneurs owning some of the biggest and highest-grossing businesses anywhere. Yet while some use their know-how to make a fortune the old-fashioned way, through hard work, others try to outsmart the system and get rich in much less legitimate or sustainable ways.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of math geeks who’ve used their computational skills to make big bucks in Vegas, playing the lottery, or on other forms of gambling. Some did nothing illegal and simply used their knowledge to their own advantage, others used their math skills to cheat and lie their way into millions, and some figured out a system just for the fun of it. While some may not have chosen the high road, these geeks will show you that your math courses really can be useful for more than getting college credit – though we caution emulating some of the methods these enterprising math nerds used.

For example:

Steven Skiena

Think betting on sports is a random gamble? With some sports that might be true, but when it comes to the complex betting systems of jai alai, there is a system and it works, as was proved by computer science professor Steven Skiena in 2004. Skiena began predicting sports results in 1977, correctly predicting the outcome of NFL games with 65% accuracy. He’s refined his methods a bit since then, and turned an initial investment of $250 into $1851. Skiena devised a highly complex mathematical system, and using a computer he could more accurately predict which team or player to bet on. For Skiena, the project was a mathematical exercise, not a money-making scheme, however, and he donated all of the winnings to charity.

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