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STT 441

Monty Hall Honors Option

In the classic monty hall problem, there are 3 doors. Behind two doors is a goat and

behind one door is a car, and your goal is to get the car. For simplicity, assume that you always

choose the first door. Then, monty hall knows what is behind each door, so he intentionally

reveals that one of the doors that you did not choose is a goat. You then have to make a decision:

you can choose to remain at your current door, or you could switch to the other door, and you do

not know what is behind each doors. What should you do?

Most people at first glance would insist that it does not make a difference whether you

keep your own door or switch to the other unknown door. However, let us look at this more

closely. If you do remain at one door, then Monty Hall revealing a goat behind another door will

not make a difference. He will always be able to do this because there are three doors and two

goats, so given any two doors, at least one of them will be a goat. If you remain at the first door

you pick, door one, then the sample space has 3 possibilities: C,G,G (this means door 1 has a car,

door 2 has a goat, door 3 has a goat), G,C,G, and G,G,C. In the first scenario, C,G,G, you will

get a car if you remain at door 1. In the other two scenarios, you will get a goat if you remain at

door 1. Therefore, there is exactly one event where you get a car if you remain at door 1. This

means that the probability of getting a car if you remain is 1/3.

If you switch to the other door, then there are also 3 possibilities. There are again 3 initial

equally likely starting positions: C,G,G, G,C,G, and G,G,C. In the first scenario, you pick a car

and then switch to a goat. In the second scenario, you pick a goat, Monty is forced to reveal the

other goat, and you will switch to a car. The same will happen in the third scenario. Therefore,

there are 3 possibilities, and in 2 of those possibilities, you get a car when you switch. This

means that the probability of getting a car when you switch is 2/3. How much do you increase

your chances of getting a car when you switch? You have a 2/3 chance of getting a car when you

switch, and a 1/3 chance of getting a car when you stay. This means that you increase your

chances of getting a car when you switch by 2/3 divided by 1/3 = 2. You double your chances of

getting a car when you switch.

Suppose the same rules apply, but we have n doors, and Monty is forced to reveal n-2

goats. There is still only 1 car, and we want to know whether we increase or decrease our

chances of getting a car if we switch. The car has n doors where it could be behind, so there are n

possibilities of where the car could be. If we remain at door 1, then we will only get the car when

the car is behind door 1. In other words, the sample space has n possibilities, and we get the car

in one possibility. So, the probability of getting a car when you do not switch is 1/n. Suppose you

switch to the other unopened door after Monty reveals n-2 goats. If you initially chose the car,

then you will switch to a goat. If you initially chose a goat, then you will switch to a car because

Monty revealed all of the other n-2 goats. There are n doors, so if you pick a goat and Monty

reveals n-2 goats, then the other door must have a car because it is the only door remaining. In

one case, you will be left with a goat if you switch, but in the remaining n-1 cases, you will be

left with a car. Therefore, the sample space is n and the number of events where you get the car

is n-1, so the probability that you get the car when you switch is (n-1)/n. The probability that you

get the car when you remain at door 1 is 1/n, so you increase your chances by (n-1)/n divided by

1/n = n-1. This is consistent with our original results because if we have 3 cars, then you increase

your chances of getting a car by 3-1=2 if you switch.

Suppose you again have n doors, 1 car, but this time Monty only reveals k doors. If you

remain at door 1, your probability of winning a car is again 1/n. If you switch, then the car is

behind door 1 in one case and the car is behind another door in n-1 cases. If the car is behind

door 1, then the probability of winning the car if you switch is 0 because you will automatically

switch to a goat. The probability that the car is behind another door is (n-1)/n. If the car is behind

one of the other n-1 doors, then the number of possible doors to choose from is n-1-k because

there are n doors, you cannot switch to the one that you already picked, and you cannot switch to

a door that Monty already opened. There is one possibility that you will pick the car because

there is only one car. So if we consider only the cases where the car is not behind the door you

picked, then the probability that you get a car if you switch is 1/(n-1-k). So, the probability that

you get a car if you switch is:

( )

You increase your chances of getting a car if you switch by:

( )

This value will be 1 if k=0 and this value should be greater than 1 if k is positive, and k will

always be 0 or positive because Monty always removes either 0 doors or a positive integer of

doors. Note that k must be less than or equal to n-2 because Monty can remove at most n-2

doors. He must leave the original door you chose and another door so that you can switch doors.

This means that the denominator of the fraction cannot equal 0 or take negative values because if

k is less than or equal to n-2, the term n-1-k must be greater than or equal to 1.

Finally, the most general case is when you have n doors, m cars, and Monty again

removes k doors. If the cars and goats are distributed randomly, there are n total doors, and m

doors conceal a car. Choosing door 1 is equivalent to choosing a door at random, so the

probability of getting a car is m/n. To find the probability of getting a car when switching, we

must again separate our choices into two cases. The first case is when one of the cars is behind

door 1, the door we chose. This case has a probability of m/n. When you switch, the sample

space of doors is again n-1-k. The number of doors that have cars is m-1 because the last car is

behind door 1, and we cannot switch to door 1. This means that the probability of getting a car

when you switch given that one car is behind door 1 is (m-1)/(n-1-k). In the second case, door 1

contains a goat. There are n doors and m cars, so there must be n-m goats. Therefore, the

probability that door 1 has a goat is (n-m)/n. If you switch in this case, you have n-1-k doors to

choose from, but now there are m cars within those doors because there is not a car in door 1 and

Monty did not reveal any cars. This means that the probability of getting a car when you switch

given that door 1 has a goat is m/(n-1-k). The overall probability of getting a car when you

switch is the probability that a car will be in door 1 times the probability that you get a car when

you switch in this case, plus the probability that a goat will be in door 1 times the probability that

you get a car when you switch in this case. This is the numerical value for these probabilities:

If m=1, then the probability that you get a car if you switch will be (n-1)/n/(n-1-k). This is

consistent with the results found earlier. The probability of getting a car when we remain at door

1 is m/n. So, when we switch, we increase our chances by:

We increase our chances of getting a car when we switch by the same amount as when there is

only 1 car. This formula shows us that for a fixed n and k, switching will increase the chances of

getting a car by the same amount regardless of the number of cars. Since k is greater than or

equal to 0, we will either not change our chances of getting a car (when k=0), or we will increase

or chances of getting a car (when k is positive). These results show that for any number of cars,

doors, and doors that Monty will reveal, we will always maximize our chances of getting a car if

we switch doors.

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