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Adam Scarchilli

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.