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Everyday Probability|Views: 299|Likes: 16

Published by Anh Ton

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https://www.scribd.com/doc/65772598/Everyday-Probability

03/27/2013

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Hot-ﬁlament electric light bulbs are a common and cheap com-

modity, produced in large numbers by mass-production processes.

Inevitably there is some variation in their characteristics and the

March 24, 2008 17:9 B-595

ch10

120** Everyday Probability and Statistics
**

one that most people are concerned with is their lifetime. A more

expensive light bulb that lasts longer may be preferred to a cheaper

onewithashorterlifetime,nomatterwhattherelativecostperhour,

if the effort of changing a bulb is a primary consideration.

We now consider a particular brand of light bulb that is found

to have a mean life of 1,000h and a standard deviation of 100h.

Assuming that the lifetimes have a normal distribution then what is

theprobabilitythataparticularbulbwillhavealifetimeofmorethan

1,200h?Since1,200his2σfromthemeanweareinterestedinthearea

of that part of the normal distribution that is more than 2σ from the

mean in the positive direction. From Table 10.1 the area between the

meanand2σfromthemeanis0.47725sotheareainthetailmorethan

2σfromthemeaninthepositivedirectionis0.5−0.47725=0.02275.

Hence the proportion of bulbs with a lifetime of more than 1,200h

is about 1 in 45. We should also note that this is also the probability

of a lifetime of less than 800h.

If we bought a light bulb and it only lasted 700h would we be

justiﬁed in complaining? Not really — in the sale of millions of light

bulbs some would inevitably fail early. We would not be rushing to

paytheshopextramoneyifwehadabulbofunusuallylonglifetime.

Againthepatternofusemustbetakenintoaccountsinceconstantly

turning a bulb on and off subjects it to thermal shocks that shorten

its lifetime. In the museum in Fort Myers, Florida, devoted to the

work of the inventor Thomas Edison (1847–1913) who invented the

ﬁrst practical ﬁlament light bulb in 1879, one of the original bulbs is

still burning. It has never been switched off.

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