The Sacred Geometry of Chance

“He deals the cards to find the answer,
The sacred geometry of chance,
A hidden law of a probable outcome,
The numbers lead a dance.”
[Sting – Shape of My Heart]

In his Nineties song Shape of My Heart, Sting sang about a gambler finding beauty in the “hidden laws” of probability that govern poker. We will deal the cards to investigate, and uncover some surprising hidden laws – and we’ll try to find what really makes “numbers dance”. Emotion, art and mathematics can go hand in hand despite the stereotypes.


Or – in more detail:

The song is one of my favourites. It concerns a poker player, and in this talk I explore the ideas the song suggests to me:


what are the rules behind the game? Why gambling doesn’t pay (but is sometimes addictive).


I have been known to bet large sums of real money live on stage, on guaranteed non-prearranged outcomes.

Hidden laws:

Certainty? Is maths certain? Most of maths is analytic and determined, but statistics concerns the very opposite – the certainty of uncertainty.

Dancing Numbers:

Even deterministic maths is not as certain as we might think…

Bifurcation of the logistic map – generating psuedo random numbers.

Bifurcation of the Logistic Map