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This the first part of the series of posts on Experimental and Theoretical Probability. *** If two standard cubical dice are rolled, one red and one blue, the possible sums ranges from 2 = (1+1) and 12 = (6+6).

Now, are the chances of getting these 11 sums equal? For example, is the chance of getting a sum of 2 similar to the chance of getting a sum of 5? Let us try to roll the two dice 1000 times. Of course, we will not do this manually. We will use a spreadsheet (I used MS Excel, but you can do this in Open Office Calc) to simulate the roll. We will choose random numbers from 1 through 6 in column A of Excel, and then we will also do this in column B. Then, we add them and place the sum in column C.

Figure 1

1. Open MS Excel, type Die1 in cell A1, Die 2 in cell B1 , and Sum in C1 (see Figure 1 left). 2. Type =randbetween (1,6) in cell A2, and then press the ENTER key. This chooses randomly from 1 through 6 and displays it in cell A2. 3. Copy cell A2 to cell A1001. You can do this by selecting cell A2, and then dragging bottom right corner all the way down to A1001. 4. Do step 2-3 in cell B2 to B1001.

5. Next, we add the number of dots in cell A2 and B2. Type = A2 + B2 in cellC2, and then press the ENTER key. Now, copy C2 all the way to C1001 by dragging the bottom right corner all the way down to C1001. 6. Next, we will create the Sum-Frequency table (see Figure 1 right). TypeSum in cell G2 and type Frequency in cell H2. 7. Then type 2 in cell G3, 3 in cell G4, 4 in cell G5, , 12 in cell G13. 8. Now type =countif(C1:C1001,2) in H3. This counts the number of occurrences of the number 2 in the Sum column (C1 through C1001). Next type =countif(C1:C1001,3) in H4. Do this all the way down to 12. The result of this simulation is shown in Figure 2. The table is shown at the left and (I have added) the graph shown at the right. If you do this in Microsoft Excel, of course, your result would be slightly different since the numbers are randomly chosen. But try to see if we have the same observations.

Figure 2

In rolling the two dice 1000 times we only rolled a two (that is we got a sum of 2) 29 times (see Figure 2), while we rolled a seven 159 times. From the frequency distribution, it seems that the chances of getting sums are not equal. It seems that if we play a 2-die rolling game, 6,7 and 8 are good bets, while 2 and 12 are not. Now, the question is, is this really true, or is it just coincidence?

Posted on May 2, 2011 by Guillermo Bautista | 5 Comments

This the second part of the series of posts on Experimental and Theoretical Probability. In the first part of this series, we used a spreadsheet to simulate the rolling of dice 1000 times and automatically recorded the sums. We have observed that the sum frequencies are not evenly distributed (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

In rolling the two dice 1000 times, for example, we rolled a seven 156 times, while we only rolled a two 29 times. Well, we want to think that this is just a coincidence, so maybe we could try it one more time. How about rolling it 2000 times?

To simulate the roll 2000 times, using the steps in the previous article, we extend the random numbers to cells A2001, B2001, and C2001. Doing this in my computer(since the numbers are random, youll find a slightly different result), I got the sum frequency table shown in Figure 2. Still 6, 7, and 8 are the most frequent roll, while 2 and 12 remained the least. Another notable observation is that the two graphs seem to have a somewhat similar appearance.

Figure 2

To convince myself further, I rolled the two dice 3000 times, and the result is shown in the sixth and seventh column of the table in Figure 3. Notice that in the three experiments, the percentages of rolling a particular sum, despite being random, are almost similar. Rolling a 2, for instance, ranges from 2.6 to 2.9 percent in the three experiments, and rolling a 7 ranges from 15.9 to 17.47 percent. In fact, if we subtract the minimum percentage value from the maximum percentage value of the frequencies (see last column) of all the possible sums in the three experiments, the maximum difference is only 1.8 percent. That means that the results are surprisingly consistent. Hmmm.

Figure 3

With the three experiments having almost similar results, there must some reasons why our results are such. That is what we are going to discuss in thethird part of this series.

Posted on May 11, 2011 by Guillermo Bautista | 4 Comments

This is the third part of the Experimental and Theoretical Probability Series. In the second part of this series, we have observed in three different experiments that if two dice are rolled, it seems that the probability of getting the sums are not equal. Not only that, we have seen several consistent patterns; for example, 2 and 12 got the least number of rolls; while, 6,7, and 8 got the most. To investigate this observation, we examine how to get a sum of 2, 12, and 6 first when we roll two dice, and then investigate other sums later. Recall that in the first part of this series, we experimented with two dice, one colored blue and the other red. To distinguish which number belongs to which dice, we color the numbers blue and red to denote blue and red dice. There are only two ways to get a sum of 2; that is, 1 + 1. This is also similar with 12; only 6 + 6. However, we can get a sum of 6 in five ways: 1 + 5, 2 + 4, 3 + 3, 4+ 2, and 5 + 1. In fact, we can create an addition table to get all the possible sums as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

In the table above, there are 36 possible sums, and these sums are not unique. If we tally the sums, we come up with the frequency table in Figure 2 and the graph in Figure 3. As we can see in the frequency table, 7 is the most probable sum( 6 out of 36 or 16.67 percent probability), while 2 and 12 are the least probable sum (only 2.78 percent probability). In laymans language, when we say that the probability of rolling a 7 using two dice is 6 out of 36, it means that if we roll a die 36 times, it is likely that we will roll a 7 six times.

Figure 2

Looking at Figure 3, we can see that the bar graph is symmetric; therefore, we can conclude that the probability of rolling a 3 is the same as that of the probability of rolling a 10. Similarly, the probability of rolling a 4 is the same as that of the probability of rolling a 9, and so on.

Figure 3

Our discovery above explains why the results of the previous experiments are such. Of course, if there is more ways to get a sum of seven than to get a sum of two, rolling the dice will likely to have a sum of seven rather than a sum of 2. Also, in the three experiments, we have seen that all the graphs are almost similar to the one shown in Figure 3.

In the next post, we will discuss why the graphs are similar. We will also explain the relationship between and among our experiment results, and the result of the tally above.

Posted on May 23, 2011 by Guillermo Bautista | 4 Comments

This is the fourth part of the Experimental and Theoretical Probability Series. Click the following to view the other parts of this series: Part I, Part II, Part III. *** In the previous posts in this series, we have experimented with dice by rolling two of them and tallying the results. We have observed some patterns; the sum frequencies are not the same, and we have discovered that it has something to do with the number of ways a sum could be obtained.

On the one hand, we did the three experiments because we wanted which sum would occur most (or least) often. We wanted to get the experimental probability of each sum. The experimental probability of an event is the ratio of the number of times the event occurs to the total number of trials. In the second column of the table, werolled a four (that is, getting a sum of four) 76 times out of 1000 trials; therefore, the experimental probability of rolling a four in that particular experiment was 76/1000 or 7.6%.

On the other hand, we made the table of all possible sums (see second table) because we wanted to know the theoretical probability of each sum.

The theoretical probability of an event to happen is the ratio of the number offavorable outcomes to the number of all possible outcomes. Hence, the theoretical probability of rolling a four when we roll two dice is 3 (anything that will result to 4: 1 + 3, 2 + 2, and 3 + 1) over 36 (number of all the possible outcomes) as shown in the table; that is 3/36. That means that in theory, if we roll a dice 36 times, we would get a sum of 4 three times. But that is just in theory. In actual experiments, the result could be different.

We can also observe from the first table above that the experimental and theoretical probabilities of a particular sum are close to each other. In rolling a four, for instance, the experimental probabilities are 7.6%, 8.85%, and 7.77% for 1000, 2000, and 3000 trials respectively. The theoretical probability is approximately 8.83%.

Intuitively, it is clear that the as the number of trials increases, the experimental probability is getting more accurate. Take this analogy: If you choose ten people randomly and ask them which operating system they use, and two of them answered Linux, you cannot conclude that 20 percent of the people who have computers are using Linux. However, if you asked more people (randomly of course) you will have more accurate results.

In the next post in this series, we are going to discuss why experimental and theoretical probabilities are important and we are going to learn some of their applications.

Posted on June 11, 2011 by Guillermo Bautista | 1 Comment

This is the fifth and the final part of the Experimental and Theoretical Probability Series. In this post, we are going to summarize what we have discussed in the previous four posts, and we are going to talk about some real-life applications of experimental and theoretical probability.

Experimental Probability, as we have discussed in the fourth part of this series, may be obtained by conducting experiments and recording the results. It is the ratio of the number of times an event occurs to the total number of trials. In thefirst part of this series, we experimented rolling to dice 1000 times (via a spreadsheet) and we tallied the sums. We recorded the that sum 2 occurred 29 times out of 1000 trials. We can say that the experimental probability of getting a 2 from that particular experiment is 29/1000. We also confirmed that some sums such as 6, 7, 8 occured more frequently than the others, and in third part of the series, we have discoverd why. By listing all the sums and all the ways they could be obtained, we have discovered that there are more ways to obtain sums like 6, 7, and 8 than 1 or 12. We have discovered that there is only one way to get a sum of 2; that is, 1 and 1 and there are 36 ways of getting all the possible sums. We can say that the theoretical probability of getting a 2 in rolling two standard cubical dice is 1/36. As we have discussed in the fourth part of this series, theoretical probability of an event is the number of favorable outcomes over the total number of possible outcomes. In real life, experimental probability is done in many scientific research. For example, we are able to predict the weather by recognizing patterns from data that had been collected over the years.

The table below shows the weather data in our country the time I began writing this (according to Wolfram Alpha). If we have, say, 30,000 days recorded in our weather database, and 2000 days, has the same data as above (including other data), and out of the 2000 days, 500 days rained heavily, then it is safe to conclude that there is 500/2000 or 25% probability that it will rain heavilty today. Of course, the more data we have collected, the more accurate our prediction.

Theoretical probability, on the other hand, is used more to make decisions that will be favorable to certain choices. In casinos, for instance, mathematicians designed each game that would be favorable to the house (casinos). This means that even if a casino does not cheat (hopefully), if you continue playing, you will definitely lose.

For example, a casino may design a die game where the banker throws a die and each player choose a number. The casino will not design and odd-even game (odd: player wins; even: casino wins) because its an even game. A casino might choose the following condition:

If the sums of two dice are 5,6,7,8,9: casino wins, other wise, player wins. Now, the players will think that they will win because they have 6 sums to chose from (1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12) and the casino has only five, but the truth is, the probability of the casino winning is 24/36, while the player has only 12/36 (can you see why?). That means, in three games, it is more likely, that the the casino will win twice.

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