My full name is Joseph Conrad Mazur. My mother bought a used copy of Lord Jim in London on her way from Vienna to America, thinking that if she could read it with a dictionary it might improve her English. Like my mother, Conrad was Polish-born, so she felt that English written by a Pole must be easy to understand.


JOSEPH MAZUR (born in the Bronx in 1942) is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Marlboro College, in Marlboro, Vermont.
He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from M.I.T., is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Bogliasco, and Rockefeller Foundations, among others. In 2009 was elected to Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences. His works have appeared in Nature, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Science, and other publications. He has been profiled in media venues such as NPR's "The Hidden Brain" and PRI's "Innovation Lab", CBS, the BBC, Vox, Radio Australia, Radio Ireland, and dozens of others. He is the author of Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Mathematics (Finalist of the 2005 PEN/​Martha Albrand Award and chosen as one of Choice’s 2005 Outstanding Academic Titles of the Year); The Motion Paradox: The 2,500-Year Old Puzzle Behind All the Mysteries of Time and Space (Choice’s 2007 Outstanding Academic Titles of the Year); What’s Luck Got to Do with It? The History, Mathematics, and Psychology behind the Gambler’s Illusion; Enlightening Symbols: A Short History of Mathematical Notation and Its Hidden Powers; and, his most recent book, Fluke: The Math and Myth of Coincidence. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

Selected Works

What are the chances? This is the question we ask ourselves when we encounter the freakiest and most seemingly impossible coincidences, like the woman who won the lottery four times or the fact that Lincoln’s dreams foreshadowed his own assassination.
Hardly any math symbols were used before the sixteenth century. What did mathematicians rely on for their work before then? And how did mathematical notations evolve to what we know of today? Enlightening Symbols explains the fascinating history behind the development of our current mathematical notation system, shows how symbols were used initially, how one symbol replaced another over time, and how written math was conveyed before and after symbols became widely adopted.
Princeton University Press (2010). A book about the nature of gambling, emphasizing the dangers and pitfalls of feeling lucky. It will investigate the hooks of gambling and what makes gamblers feel lucky. Using both mathematics and psychology it will illustrate the misconceptions of luck, explore what it means to have a good chance, and to create an awareness of expected outcomes.
Published by Dutton in April 2007. Now available in bookstores. "THIS is one of the most fascinating science books I have ever read . . . Mazur has succeeded in telling a fresh and untold story with clarity and style." -- The New Scientist
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles of the Year 2005-- “This book is a treasure of human experience and intellectual excitement.”
Editor of the revived classic by Tobias Dantzig, Number: The Language of Science.