Chapter 1
You Can’t Beat the
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that you
live in a large city such as Berlin or Ham-
burg. You are seated on a bus; a passenger
departs, leaving behind an umbrella. You
take the umbrella, with the idea that when
you get home, you will pick up the phone
and dial seven random numbers in the hope
of reaching the owner of the umbrella.
This is, of course, a made-up story, and
such a plan in real life would be ridiculed
as hopelessly naive. But don’t laugh too
quickly, because many of your fellow citizens
have the hope every Saturday evening of hav-
ing chosen the correct lottery numbers, the
probability of which is 1 in 13,983,816. Such
odds are worse than those of locating the
owner of the umbrella according to the plan
described above, since there are “only” ten
million random sequences of seven digits.
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