Scott A. Norris, Mathematics, on odds of winning $1.6B Powerball jackpot

Associated Press

Originally Posted: January 14, 2016

$1.6B Powerball jackpot to be split three ways

Winners bought their tickets in Florida, Tennessee and a Los Angeles suburb

An eye-popping and unprecedented Powerball jackpot whose rise to $1.6 billion became a national fascination will be split three ways.

The winners’ identities remain a mystery, but they bought their tickets in Florida, Tennessee and a Los Angeles suburb where even lottery losers were celebrating Thursday that such heady riches were won in their modest city.

The winners of the world-record jackpot overcame odds of 1 in 292.2 million to land on the numbers drawn Wednesday night, 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10. They can take the winnings in annual payments spread over decades or a smaller amount in a lump sum.

The California ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, California, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso told The Associated Press. The winning ticket in Tennessee was sold in Munford, north of Memphis, according to a news release from lottery officials in that state.

The California store and its surrounding strip mall immediately became a popular gathering spot in the usually quiet suburb of 75,000 people. Hundreds of people, from news crews to gawkers, crowded the store and spilled into its parking lot.

They cheered and mugged for TV cameras as if it were New Year’s Eve or a sporting event. Many chanted, “Chino Hills! Chino Hills!” in celebration of the city.

“It’s history. We’re all so excited for our city,” Rita Talwar, 52, who has lived in Chino Hills for 30 years, told the local newspaper, the San Bernardino Sun.

Some took selfies with the store clerk on duty, who became an instant celebrity and may well have been the man who sold the ticket after being on duty for much of the run-up to Wednesday night’s drawing. READ MORE

There’s no way to guarantee winning money on Powerball

New York Post

Originally Posted: January 11, 2016

For all you wise guys thinking of buying every Powerball combo and scooping up a guaranteed $1.3 billion: Think again.

Professional numbers crunchers have done the math and found there’s no way for a New York Powerball player to land in the black by snatching up every possible lottery number, even with this record prize coming up on Wednesday.

There are 292.2 million combinations of the five numbers plus one Powerball number in the game — which means a gambler could spend $584.4 million to guarantee a win by buying every set of numbers.

It may seem like a no-brainer investment, considering the payoff will be at least $1.3 billion. But buying every number would actually be a sucker bet.

Even if playing every number were possible — and experts say it’s not — the winnings could be cut down to just $806 million with a lump-sum payout.

That would be further reduced through taxes. A winner in New York City would take home $502.1 million after taxes, while a state resident outside Gotham would pocket $533.4 million, according to officials.

As bad of a loss as that would be, the real hurt would come if even one other person shared the jackpot by also picking the winning numbers. That would cut the winning prize in half.

Of course, a winner could take the payout over time, which would give them $1.3 billion total. But that would take 29 years of annual payments to collect. It would be much better to just invest the $584 million.

“They’re not stupid,” Scott Norris, a professor of applied mathematics at Southern Methodist University in Texas, said of lottery organizers. “You’re much better off going to a casino.”

The hardest part, though, would be the physical act of buying 292.2 million lottery tickets. READ MORE

Scott Norris, Mathematics, has one good tip for winning the Powerball jackpot

WINA News Radio

Originally Posted: January 8, 2016

It’s easy to sum up your chances of winning tomorrow’s huge Powerball jackpot: slim to none.

The math whizzes put the odds of winning at more than one in 292 million.

One statistical expert at the University at Buffalo – Jeffrey Miecznikowski – says that’s like flipping a quarter and getting heads 28 times in a row. In other words, forget it.

Scott A. Norris, an assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University, has one tip: He says let the computer pick rather than choosing the numbers yourself.

That’s because when people use birthdates or other favorite figures, they generally choose numbers 31 or below. That ignores the fact that there are 69 numbered balls. READ MORE

SMU is closed December 24-January 1. Have a safe and happy holiday!


SMU books fulfill your holiday gift giving list

Books published in 2015 by the SMU community, including faculty, staff, alumni, libraries and museum, can complete your holiday gift list.

Need to satisfy a history buff? This list has it covered in genres from art to film to science to the Southwest. Find selections for readers of poetry, as well as personal, political and travel memoir. There’s a cookbook for foodies. A photography collection showcases the American West. Arty crime capers are filled with mystery and intrigue to the end. There’s even a literary riff in the form of a card game based on a classic novel.

This collection has something for all reading preferences, from light to serious. Some selections are available at the SMU bookstore, but all are available via online booksellers unless otherwise noted. Authors are listed alphabetically. READ MORE

Save the Date: 2016 Career Fair, Feb. 18 from 4-7 p.m.


Meet Dedman College Faculty during Family Weekend

2:00PM 3:00PM

Dedman College, the heart of SMU houses the vital disciplines the underlie great accomplishment. Denman College offers 85 exciting majors and minors in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Their award winning faculty will be available to discuss their teaching and research interests. READ MORE

Seven Dedman College professors receive emeritus status in 2014-15

Congratulations to the following professors who received emeritus status in 2014-2015. The professors, and their dates of service:



Christine Buchanan, Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1977-2015




Bradley Kent Carter, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1970-2015




Anthony Cortese, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1989-2015


habermanRichard Haberman, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1978-2015



Hopkins D11


James K. Hopkins, Professor Emeritus of History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1974-2015




John Ubelaker, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1968-2015




Ben Wallace, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1969-2015


Congratulations to the 2015 Research Day Award Winners

Congratulations to all the Dedman College students who received 2015 Research Day awards.

The goal of Research Day  is to foster communication between students in different disciplines, give students the opportunity to present their work in a professional setting, and share the outstanding research being conducted at SMU with their peers and industry professionals from the greater Dallas community.

See the full list of Research Day Winners, 2015

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