This colloquium will explain some of the background and significance of the concept of amenability. Arguments with finite groups frequently, without remark, count the number of elements in a subset or average a function over the group. It is usually important in these arguments that the result of the calculation is invariant under translation. Such calculations cannot be so readily made in infinite groups but the concepts of amenability and translation invariant measure on a group in some ways take their place. The talk will explain this and also say how random walks relate to these same ideas.