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There are three characteristics of a binomial experiment.

  1. There are a fixed number of trials. Think of trials as repetitions of an experiment. The letter n denotes the number of trials.
  2. There are only two possible outcomes, called "success" and "failure," for each trial. The letter p denotes the probability of a success on one trial, and q denotes the probability of a failure on one trial. p + q = 1.
  3. The n trials are independent and are repeated using identical conditions. Because the n trials are independent, the outcome of one trial does not help in predicting the outcome of another trial. Another way of saying this is that for each individual trial, the probability, p , of a success and probability, q , of a failure remain the same. For example, randomly guessing at a true-false statistics question has only two outcomes. If a success is guessing correctly, then a failure is guessing incorrectly. Suppose Joe always guesses correctly on any statistics true-false question with probability p = 0.6. Then, q = 0.4. This means that for every true-false statistics question Joe answers, his probability of success ( p = 0.6) and his probability of failure ( q = 0.4) remain the same.

The outcomes of a binomial experiment fit a binomial probability distribution . The random variable X = the number of successes obtained in the n independent trials.

The mean, μ , and variance, σ 2 , for the binomial probability distribution are μ = np and σ 2 = npq . The standard deviation, σ , is then σ = n p q .

Any experiment that has characteristics two and three and where n = 1 is called a Bernoulli Trial (named after Jacob Bernoulli who, in the late 1600s, studied them extensively). A binomial experiment takes place when the number of successes is counted in one or more Bernoulli Trials.

At ABC College, the withdrawal rate from an elementary physics course is 30% for any given term. This implies that, for any given term, 70% of the students stay in the class for the entire term. A "success" could be defined as an individual who withdrew. The random variable X = the number of students who withdraw from the randomly selected elementary physics class.

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The state health board is concerned about the amount of fruit available in school lunches. Forty-eight percent of schools in the state offer fruit in their lunches every day. This implies that 52% do not. What would a "success" be in this case?

a school that offers fruit in their lunch every day

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Suppose you play a game that you can only either win or lose. The probability that you win any game is 55%, and the probability that you lose is 45%. Each game you play is independent. If you play the game 20 times, write the function that describes the probability that you win 15 of the 20 times. Here, if you define X as the number of wins, then X takes on the values 0, 1, 2, 3, ..., 20. The probability of a success is p = 0.55. The probability of a failure is q = 0.45. The number of trials is n = 20. The probability question can be stated mathematically as P ( x = 15).

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A trainer is teaching a dolphin to do tricks. The probability that the dolphin successfully performs the trick is 35%, and the probability that the dolphin does not successfully perform the trick is 65%. Out of 20 attempts, you want to find the probability that the dolphin succeeds 12 times. State the probability question mathematically.

P ( x = 12)

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Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Introductory statistics. OpenStax CNX. May 06, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11562/1.18
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