Supposedly, a group of scentists and academics in Britain have, on an investment of $8700, used a mathematical approach to win a $13M jackpot. (Source: A Statistical Approach for Winning Lottery — Group Wins $13M!)

Momentarily assuming that there’s no “rake” and that the lottery pays $1 in prizes for each $1 in gambling, that’s “only” ~1500:1 odds. Not likely, but stranger things happen every day.

But, of course, the problem with *any* kind of approach to the lottery (or, for that matter, stock picking), is that there *is* a rake. In the case of the lottery, the state takes a large percentage of the income. In the case of stocks, trading costs and the speed of execution have destroyed many a trading “system” (it’s surprisingly easy to create a statistical model that works, if execution is instantaneous and free).

The scant details seem to describe a technique for covering all numbers in order to increase the amount of payout when those numbers hit (as opposed to, say, the numbers 1-12 and 1-30, which are used by people betting birthdays and anniversaries). I find it highly doubtful that any such technique could beat the rake in a professionally-run, large-scale lottery. If there *is *a technique, I hope the newly rich academics publish their mathematical techniques, because it will probably necessitate rewriting the textbooks of probability!

Oh, and this gives me an excuse to blog a long-held opinion of mine: it’s perfectly rational to buy a ticket for a lottery. What’s contemptibly irrational is buying two or more.