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Get the latest tips, news, and developments. Further documentation is available here. English that describes something that was randomly determined. English was originally used as an adjective with the definition “pertaining to conjecturing”, and stemming from a Greek word meaning “to aim at a mark, guess”, and the Oxford English Dictionary gives the year 1662 as its earliest occurrence. Ars Conjectandi sive Stochastice”, which has been translated to “the art of conjecturing or stochastics”. In the early 1930s, Aleksandr Khinchin gave the first mathematical definition of a stochastic process as a set of random variables indexed by the real line. Decades later Cramér referred to the 1930s as the “heroic period of mathematical probability theory”.
A problem itself may be stochastic as well, as in planning under uncertainty. This was first observed by botanist Robert Brown while looking through a microscope at pollen grains in water. Ulam’s uncle would borrow money to gamble. Methods of simulation and statistical sampling generally did the opposite: using simulation to test a previously understood deterministic problem. Though examples of an “inverted” approach do exist historically, they were not considered a general method until the popularity of the Monte Carlo method spread. Monte Carlo methods began to be studied in depth.