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Basic directions on how to use Google Spreadsheet and Excel to explore probability topics

Probability topics using spreadsheets

In this section we will discuss techniques using spreadsheets for exploring probability topics particularly, generating random numbers and use of contingency tables.

Generating random numbers

Random numbers can be generated in Excel or Google Spreadsheet. To create a random number, column of numbers, or a page of numbers you would use the formula =rand() in any cell, copy and paste that same formula to any other cell and you have a list of random numbers. The rand formula gives you a decimal random number between 0.0000 and 1.0000 so if you do not want a decimal random number that you can enter =rand()*1000 in a worksheet cell you will then have a whole number between 9999 and 0000.

Both Excel and Google Spreadsheet also have a function called =randbetween(lower bound, upper bound) where you can specify your numbers. To use this function you will pick your lower and upper bounds. So if you want a random list of numbers between 0 and 50 you would enter =randbetween(0,50). Again if you copy and paste this formula into multiple cells you will have a list of random numbers within your criteria. See image below of numbers generated using Excel and Google Spreadsheet. The first row has numbers generated using =rand() the second column has numbers generated using =randbetween(0,50). Note though that if you want stable numbers that will not change every time you open the spreadsheet you will need to use the copy function and paste as “value” into a column to make the numbers static.

Creating probability contingency tables:

Given the data set of “College Rank” and “How did you arrive on campus today?” let’s figure out some probabilities using Excel PivotTable. Below is the data we will use.

We will create a PivotTable using the same techniques as we did for Bivariate Data. We can keep the counts if we want to calculate the percentages by hand to determine the probability of any particular event or we can alter the “Values” field by using the down arrow next to “count”, pick “Value Field Setting” from the pull down menu and then go to the tab called, “Show Values As” and pick “% of Grand Total”. That will give you all the probabilities of the particular events out of all possible events. In this example the probability of a selecting a senior who drives a car would be .2 or 20% or the probability of selecting a student who arrived at school today by car would be 50%. Think of what other questions you could answer.

Optional classroom exercise:

At your computer, try this exercise: (1) Open the file, Statistics First Day of Class Survey that you worked on previously (2) open the file in Excel or Google Spreadsheet (3) create a new worksheet tab and label it Probability topics; (4) pick two columns of categorical that have been “cleaned” and create a pivot table; (4) determine the probability of at least 4 events of interest to you. (6) copy your pivot table and your questions into a word document and describe the probability of your selected data. (7) save the Excel or file again and this time post only the word document you created in the appropriate Moodle assignment.

Other topics of interest:

There is a wonderful web site call Random.org http://www.random.org/ that has some free tools to explore random events and probability. On the Random.org home webpage there is a category called “Games and Gambling.” If you mouse over “Coin Flipper”, “Dice Roller” or “playing Card Shuffler” and click on it, you will be able to explore random events. You will be able to choose the number of events you want to generate and some display options. Try it to generate a sample space.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Collaborative statistics using spreadsheets. OpenStax CNX. Jan 05, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11521/1.23
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