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Introduction to Probability The problems of data measurement, quantification and interpretation

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Is the mere act of quantification Science?

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What is probability?

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Measuring probability

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Event It is a simple process with a well- recognized beginning and end

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Outcome One of the alternatives through which an event manifests

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Sample space The set formed from all possible outcomes of an event

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Trial A single complete instance of a process of testing Statisticians refer to each trial as an individual replicate, and refer to a set of trials as an experiment

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By definition !! 0.0 < P < 1.0

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Probability Most statistics textbooks define probability just as we have done: the (expected) frequency with which events occur

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An example of a trial: flipping a coin… An example of an experiment: flipping a coin several times... Sample space: {heads} {tails}...

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Random and Deterministic processes When we say that events are random, stochastic, probabilistic, or due to chance, what we really mean is that their outcomes are determined in part by a complex set of processes that we are unable or unwilling to measure and will instead treat as random The strength of other processes that we measure, manipulate, and model represent deterministic or mechanistic forces

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The mathematics of Probability Axiom 1: the sum of the probabilities of outcomes within a single sample space =1.0 In a properly defined sample space the outcomes are mutually exclusive and exhaustive

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The whirligig beetle These beasts always produce exactly two litters, with between 2 and 4 offspring per litter

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The lifetime reproductive success of a beetle can be described as an outcome (a,b) where a represents the number of offspring in the first litter and b the number of offspring in the second litter

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The sample space Whirligig Beetle Fitness consists of all possible lifetime reproductive outcomes: Fitness = {(2,2),(2,3),(2,4) (3,2),(3,3),(3,4) (4,2),(4,3),(4,4)} P(2,2)=P(2,3)=P(2,4) = … =P(4,4) 1/9+1/9+1/9+1/9+1/9+1/9+1/9+1/9+1/9=1

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Complex events Are composites of simple events in the sample space A complex event can be achieved by one of several pathways ( OR statement ) Event A or Event B or Event C, represented by the union of simple events (A U B U C)

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Complex events: summing probabilities What is the probability that a whirligig beetle produces 6 offspring? 6 offspring ={(2,4),(3,3),(4,2)} Fitness (2,2) (3,4) (2,3) (4,4) (4,3) (2,4) (3,2) (3,3) (4,2) 6 offspring

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Complex events Axiom 2: the probability of a complex event equals the sum of the probabilities of the outcomes that make up that event P (6 offspring) = P(2,4) or P(3,3) or P(4,2) = 1/9+1/9+1/9 = 3/9 = 1/3 P(A or B or C)= P(A)+P(B)+P(C)

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Shared events Are multiple simultaneous occurrences of simple events in the sample space A shared event requires the simultaneous occurrence of two or more simple events ( AND statement ) Event A and Event B and Event C, represented by the intersection of simple events (A ∩ B ∩ C)

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Shared events: multiplying probabilities If, instead, we assume the number of offspring produced in the second litter is independent of the number produced in the first litter Suppose that an individual can produce 2,3,4 offspring in each litter and that the chances of each of these events are 1/3. What is the probability of obtaining the pair of litters (2,4)? 2,4 offspring ={(2,4)}

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Independence Two events are independent of one another if the outcome of one event is not affected by the outcome of the other If two events are independent of one another, then probability that both events occur (a shared event) equals the product of their individual probabilities

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If A and B are independent (2) (3)(4) Fitness (2) (3) (4) First litterSecond litter 1/3*1/3=1/9

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Milkweeds and Caterpillars

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Probability calculations Imagine two kinds of milkweed populations: those that evolved secondary chemicals that make them resistant (R) to the herbivore, and those that haven’t (not R) Suppose you census a number of milkweed populations and determine that 20% of the populations are resistant to the herbivore Thus P(R)=0.20; P(not R)=0.80

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Probability calculations Similarly, suppose that the probability that the caterpillar (C) occurs in a patch is 0.7 Then P(C)=0.7; P(not C)=0.3. If colonization events are independent of one another, What are the chances of finding either caterpillars, milkweeds, or both in these patches? What is the probability that the milkweed will disappear?

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Probability calculations Shared event Probability calculation Milkweed resistant Caterpillar present Susceptible & no caterpillar [1-P(R)]*[1-P(C)]= 0.8*0.3=0.24 NO Susceptible & caterpillar [1-P(R)]*[P(C)]= 0.8*0.7=0.56 NOYES Resistant & no caterpillar [P(R)]*[1-P(C)]= 0.2*0.3=0.06 YESNO Resistant & caterpillar [P(R)]*[P(C)]= 0.2*0.7=0.14 YES

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Notice 0.24+0.56+0.06+0.14=1 0.14+0.06=0.20 (probability of resistance) 0.56+0.14=0.70 (probability of caterpillar presence) 0.56 Probability that milkweed will disappear

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Rules for combining sets when events are not independent Suppose in our sample space there are two identifiable events, each of which consists of a group of outcomes: 1. whirligig that produces exactly 2 offspring in the first litter (F) 2. whirligig that produces exactly 4 offspring in the second litter (S)

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Rules for combining sets when events are not independent Fitness ={(2,2),(2,3),(2,4) (3,2),(3,3),(3,4) (4,2),(4,3),(4,4)} F={(2,2),(2,3),(2,4)} S={(2,4),(3,4),(4,4)} F={(2,2),(2,3),(2,4)} S={(2,4),(3,4),(4,4)}

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Venn diagram Fitness (2,2) (3,4) (2,3) (4,4) (4,3) (2,4) (3,2) (3,3) (4,2) F S

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Rules for combining sets when events are not independent We can construct a third useful set by considering the set F c, called the complement of F, which is the set of objects in the remaining sample space F c ={(3,2),(3,3),(3,4),(4,2),(4,3),4,4)} From axioms 1 and 2: P(F)+P(F c )=1

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Empty set The empty set contains no elements and is written as =

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Calculating probabilities of combined events If: ={ } then:

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How to estimate the probability that a whirligig produces 6 offspring, if the number of offspring produced in the second litter depends on the number of offspring in the first litter? Recall the complex event 6 offspring is P(6 offspring) = {(2,4),(3,3),(4,2)} = 3/9 (or 1/3) If you observed that the first litter was 2 offspring, what is the probability that the whirligig will produce 4 offspring next time? Answer = 1/3 is correct, but why??????

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Conditional probabilities If we are calculating the probability of a complex event, and we have information about the outcome of that event, we should modify our estimates of the probabilities of other outcomes accordingly. We refer to these updated estimates as conditional probabilities P(A│B) or the probability of event A given event B

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The probability of A is calculated assuming that the event B has already occurred:

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Rearranging the formula gives us a general formula for calculating the probability of an intersection: Note that if two events A and B are independent, then P(A|B)=P(A), so that

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Until now, we have discussed probability using what is know as the frequentist paradigm, in which probabilities are estimated as the relative frequencies of outcomes based on an infinitely large set of trials Scientists start assuming NO prior knowledge of the probability of an event, and re-estimate the probability based on a large number of trials The frequentist paradigm

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In contrast is the Bayesian paradigm, which builds on the idea that investigators may already have a belief about the probability of an event, before the trials are conducted. These prior probabilities may be based on previous experience, intuition, or model predictions These prior probabilities are then modified by the data from the current trial to yield posterior probabilities. Bayes’ Theorem

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The probability of an event or outcome A conditional on another event B can be determined if you know the probability of the event B conditional on the event A and you know the complement of A

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An important distinction For example, the distinction between: 1.P(C|R), the probability that caterpillars are found given a resistant population of milkweeds. To estimate P(C|R), we would need to examine populations of resistant milkweeds to determine the frequency with which these populations were hosting caterpillars

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An important distinction and: 2.P(R|C), the probability that milkweeds are resistant given that they are eaten by caterpillars. To estimate P(R|C), we would need to examine caterpillars to determine the frequency with which their host plants are resistant.

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Probability is completely contingent on how we define the sample space In general, we all have intuitive estimates for probabilities for all kinds of events. However, to quantify those guesses, we have to decide on a sample space, take samples, and count the frequency with which certain events occur

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Estimating probability by sampling We can efficiently estimate the probability of an event by taking a sample of the population of interest Exercise 1 Part 1, with cards

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Estimating probabilities by sampling 1.Using playing cards identify Kings, Queens, Jacks and Aces as “captures”, and the rest of the cards as “non captures”. 2.What is the probability of “capture”? 3.Shuffle to provide an element of chance in the game. 4.Take at random four cards and note how many of them are “captures” 5.Repeat this procedure (Steps 3. and 4.) 20 times 6.What is the expected value of the capture probability? students will have one week to complete this exercise

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Estimating probabilities by sampling Do the same exercise, but use only the heart suit What is the expected value of the capture probability? How different is the result among the games you played?

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Write an algorithm (sequence of instructions) in Excel that simulates the game previously described (be creative) Play the game 10 and 20 times How different are the results from the games you played? (present the results as histograms) What is the expected value of the capture probability? Exercise 1 Part 2, A model of the game

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Example of Histogram The numbers on the horizontal axis, or x-axis indicate the number of “captures” The numbers on the vertical axis or y-axis indicate the frequency

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