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An Introduction to Probability

Probability is the branch of mathematics that deals with the measurement of the likelihood of the

occurrence of some event.

Probability Axioms:

P(S) = 1, where the sample space, S, is the set of all possible events

If A, B are disjoint (mutually exclusive) events (i.e., P(AB) = 0), then P(AB) = P(A) + P(B)

Probability Rules:

A binary code is being transmitted to two receivers, A and B. The probability that A and B translate any

given bit correctly is .40 and .25 respectively. A and B will both translate a bit correctly 15% of the time.

What is the probability that a given bit is translated correctly by A or B? By B, if it is translated correctly

by A? Does the probability that it is translated correctly by A depend on whether it’s translated correctly

by B?

Conditional Probability:

P ( AB )

P(A|B) =

P( B)

Independent Events:

P(AB) = P(A)P(B)

or equivalently, iff

P(A) = P(A|B)

P(B) = P(B|A)

SYDE 212 Prob - 2

Some Counting Methods For Calculating Probabilities

Classical Definition of Probability:

Let the sample space S be the set of all possible distinct (and in this case, equally likely) outcomes. Then

the probability of an event of interest, A, =

Number of outcomes that satisfy event A

Total number of (equally likely) outcomes in S

1. Two dice are rolled. What is the probability that the two numbers are different?

2. Canadian postal codes consist of 3 letters alternated with 3 digits, starting with a letter (e.g. N2L

3G1). For a randomly constructed postal code, what is the probability: the digits are all odd?

3. A child is playing with (six) letter blocks: A, E, K, N, O, R. He arranges the blocks from left to right

in random order.

a) What is the probability the blocks spell ‘KENORA’ ?

b) What is the probability that the blocks start with ‘KEN’?

The number of ways to arrange r objects selected from n distinct objects is n(n-1)(n-2)⋯(n-r+1).

4. The child is now playing with the (seven) letter blocks N, O, O, O, R, T, T, and arranges them from

left to right in random order.

a) What is the probability that the arrangement starts with the blocks O,R,T in any order?

b) What is the probability that the blocks spell ‘TORONTO’?

The number of distinct arrangements of n objects when n1 are alike of one type, n2 alike of a

second type, ..., nk alike of type k (with n1 + n2 +…+ nk = n ) is

n!

n1 ! n2 !...nk !

5. What is the probability that (assuming certain assumptions), in a room of 50 people, no two people

share the same birthday?

(Birthday applet: http://www-stat.stanford.edu/~susan/surprise/Birthday.html)

6. A 5 card poker hand is randomly dealt from a standard 52 card deck (13 ranks -2, 3,..., J, Q, K, A, and

4 suits – clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades).

a) What is the probability that the hand contains all cards of the same suit (a ‘flush’)?

The number of (unordered) subsets of r objects drawn (without replacement) from n objects is

n n!

r r!(n r )!

b) What is the probability that the hand contains one pair? (two 2’s, or two 3’s, ...etc, where the other

three cards are all of different rank).

(Poker hand applet: http://webspace.ship.edu/deensley/mathdl/stats/Poker.html)

c) Five cards are randomly selected with replacement. What is the probability that the hand contains

exactly 3 spades?

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