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In this chapter, you will learn to:
If two coins are tossed, what is the probability that both coins will fall heads? The problem seems simple enough, but it is not uncommon to hear the incorrect answer $1/3$ . A student may incorrectly reason that if two coins are tossed there are three possibilities, one head, two heads, or no heads. Therefore, the probability of two heads is one out of three. The answer is wrong because if we toss two coins there are four possibilities and not three. For clarity, assume that one coin is a penny and the other a nickel. Then we have the following four possibilities.
HH HT TH TT
The possibility HT, for example, indicates a head on the penny and a tail on the nickel, while TH represents a tail on the penny and a head on the nickel.
It is for this reason, we emphasize the need for understanding sample spaces.
An act of flipping coins, rolling dice, drawing cards, or surveying people are referred to as an experiment .
If a die is rolled, write a sample space.
A die has six faces each having an equally likely chance of appearing. Therefore, the set of all possible outcomes $S$ is
$\left\{\mathrm{1,2,3,4,5,6}\right\}$ .
A family has three children. Write a sample space.
The sample space consists of eight possibilities.
The possibility $\text{BGB}$ , for example, indicates that the first born is a boy, the second born a girl, and the third a boy.
We illustrate these possibilities with a tree diagram.
Two dice are rolled. Write the sample space.
We assume one of the dice is red, and the other green. We have the following 36 possibilities.
Green | ||||||
Red | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
1 | (1,1) | (1,2) | (1,3) | (1,4) | (1,5) | (1,6) |
2 | (2,1) | (2,2) | (2,3) | (2,4) | (2,5) | (2,6) |
3 | (3,1) | (3,2) | (3,3) | (3,4) | (3,5) | (3,6) |
4 | (4,1) | (4,2) | (4,3) | (4,4) | (4,5) | (4,6) |
5 | (5,1) | (5,2) | (5,3) | (5,4) | (5,5) | (5,6) |
6 | (6,1) | (6,2) | (6,3) | (6,4) | (6,5) | (6,6) |
The entry (2, 5), for example, indicates that the red die shows a two, and the green a 5.
Now that we understand the concept of a sample space, we will define probability.
If two dice, one red and one green, are rolled, find the probability that the red die shows a 3 and the green shows a six.
Since two dice are rolled, there are 36 possibilities. The probability of each outcome, listed in [link] , is equally likely.
Since (3, 6) is one such outcome, the probability of obtaining (3, 6) is $1/\text{36}$ .
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