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Introduction to Probability

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What is it? For a random phenomenon, individual outcomes are not certain, but there is a regular distribution of outcomes in the long run The probability of an outcome is its long- term relative frequency.

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Probability vs. inference If a coin is tossed 100 times, you would expect to see 50 heads However, there is some (non-zero) probability that it only comes up heads 25 times If there were 100 flips, and it only came up heads 25 times, you might infer that it wasnt a fair coin.

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What are the possible outcomes? Want to make a list of possible outcomes, then find probability for each outcome Sample space is the set of all possible outcomes Events are specific outcomes or set of outcomes in the sample space

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Probability Scale You can draw a scale from Impossible to Certain: ImpossibleUnlikelyEven ChanceLikelyCertain What is the probability of scoring less than 5 when rolling a fair 6-sided die? Estimated Probability

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Introduction to Probability Rather than using a descriptive scale, we use a numerical scale Probability is a numerical measure of the likelihood that an event will occur. Probability values are always assigned on a scale from 0 to 1. A probability near 0 indicates an event is very unlikely to occur. A probability near 1 indicates an event is almost certain to occur.

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Useful facts about probability Probability cannot be less than 0 or greater than 1. All possible outcomes together must have probability 1. Probability of an event occurring is 1 minus probability that it does not occur. If 2 events have no outcomes in common, probability that one or the other occurs is sum of their individual probabilities

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= 1 6 Example: You roll a six-sided die whose sides are numbered from 1 through 6. Find the probability of a. rolling a 4 b. rolling an odd number c. rolling a number less than 7 = number of ways to roll a 4 number of ways to roll the die = number of ways to roll an odd number number of ways to roll the die = 3 6 = 1 2 = number of ways to roll less than 7 number of ways to roll the die = 6 6 = 1

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Combining Probabilities What is the probability of scoring either a 2 or a 6 from a single roll of a fair die? Number of ways an event can happen Total number of possible outcomes 2 6 = 1 3 = Or p(1) = And p(5) = So p(1 or 5) = = = 1 3 =

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Combining probabilities What happens if we need to calculate the probability of one event occurring and another event occurring? What is the probability of rolling a 4 with a die and tossing a head with a coin? How many outcomes are there?

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Combining probabilities H1 H2 H3 H4 H5 H6 T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 HT 12 possible outcomes. Only one is H plus a So p(4 and head) = Or: The probability of rolling a 4 is 1 6 The probability of throwing a head is 1 2 So p(4 and head) = of of the time =

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Probability Throwing dice, tossing coins, picking cards - in each case each outcome is equally likely It is not always the case that all possible outcomes of a trial are equally likely. Sometimes we cannot calculate the probability, but can only estimate it

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Probability Will it rain tomorrow? Will Team A win over Team B? Each outcome is not equally likely. For one team playing a game against another, there are three possible outcomes: Win, Lose, Draw Probability of winning is not one third.

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Probability The probability that they will win can only be estimated, using other information, mainly past performance of the two teams.

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