It had been a while since I wanted to start this category, but I just wanted to be someone that I really like, someone that not everyone knows and someone that makes me say ‘WOooW’ when I read something about him/her. So that ‘WOooW’ happened this morning reading ‘ Alex’s Adventures in Numberland’ by Alex Bellos.

” The UK lottery is a 6/49 lottery, which means that for each ticket the punter must select 6 numbers out of 49. These are about 14 million possible combinations. How do you list these combinations in such a way that each combination is listed exactly once, avoiding duplications? In the early 1960s Stefan Mandel, a Romanian economist, asked himself the same question about the smaller Romanian lottery. The answer is not straightforward. Mandel cracked it, however, after spending several years on the problem and won the Romanian lottery in 1964. (In fact, in this case he did not buy every combination, since that would cost him too much money. He used a supplementary method called ‘condensing’ that guarantees that at least 5 of the 6 numbers are correct. Usually getting 5 numbers means winning second prize, but he was lucky and won first prize first time. ) The algorithm that Mandel had written out to decide which combination to buy covered 8000 foolscaps sheets. Shortly afterwards, he emigrated to Israel and then to Australia.

While in Melbourne, Mandel founded an international betting syndicate, raising enough money from its members to ensure that, if he wanted to buy every single combination in a lottery, then he could. He surveyed the world’s lotteries for rollover jackpots that were more then three times the cost of every combination. In 1992 he identified the Virginia state lottery – a lottery with seven million combination, each costing \$1 a ticket – whose jackpot had reached almost \$28 million. Mandel got to work. He printed out coupons in Australia, filled them in by computer so that they covered the seven million combinations, and then flew the coupons to the US. He won the first prize and 135,000 secondary prizes too.

The Virginia lottery was Mandel’s largest jackpot, bringing his tally since leaving Romania to 13 lottery wins. The US Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and the CIA all looked into the syndicate’s Virginia lottery win, but could prove no wrongdoing. There is nothing illegal about buying up every combination, even though it sounds like a scam. Mandel has now retired from betting on lotteries and lives on a tropical island in the South Pacific.” from ‘Alex’s Adventures in Numberland’ by Alex Bellos.

I hope you enjoy this one. If you want more articles like this one just ‘like’. Thanks.

Have a nice day and don’r forget MATH is EVERYWHERE around Us. Check my Facebook page, my Tumblr, my just started Google+ page and also my new Twitter (I am really new to the last 2 things, so bare with me if you can see stupid mistakes there) and  Instagram.

11 thoughts on “Stefan Mandel”

1. Anon says:

Would be interesting to read the work on duplication reduction that you mention he did for his mathematically non-trivial wins.

By the way, this reminds of an old Wired article on scratch-off tickets games where tickets turned out to have a correlation between exposed “bait” numbers and the hidden scratch-off numbers:
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/01/ff_lottery/2/

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2. Hello, I enjoy reading through your article. I wanted to write a
little comment to support you.

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3. Justin says:

This article should be titled “life through a con artist criminal’s eyes”. This man has lined his pockets with hard working middle class people’s money with empty promises. Stephan Mandel is the true meaning of filth and will eventually end up where all people like him deserve to be, alone and in hell. Thanks for letting me share.
P.S. Keep an eye out in the near future in relation to this scumbag on MSNBC, it’s going to be very educational for all who think he’s so great.

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1. I totally understand your opinion and I agree, but from a mathematical point of view he did an interesting thing. I am sorry he used math like this. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

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4. Bonjour. Je solicit l’obtention du contenu de ce documents complèt de stefan Madel en 1992. Merci d’avance.

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5. I come here searching for Stefan Mandel – Life Through A Mathematician’s Eyes.
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