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Probability by Diagram

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which will actually occur.

For example, a five-card hand is dealt from a deck of 52 cards. There are

2,598,960 different hands which might be dealt, and the dealing of any

one of them could be considered an elementary event.

To each elementary event is attached a "probability," which represents the universe (all possible wo

the relative likelihood of that occurrence. These probabilities are all

non-negative, and sum to 1. In the example, assuming a fair deal, it

makes sense to assign equal probabilities to all possible deals, so each

has a probability of 1/2,598,960.

.

an elementary event

e.g. [2,3,7,9,Q]

N.B. The "counts" on this and the following tabs are derived in

the "Counting" workbook.

e universe (all possible worlds)

Events

actual elementary event which occurs is in that set.

events which would lead to the event happening.

In our five-card example, let A represent the event "the hand contains at

least one ace." the event A

"A happens"

There are 886,656 hands containing at least one ace. Therefore,

A doesn't happen, i.e., that the elementary event which occurs does not

lie in the set A.

the event Ac

'"A doesn't happen"

shorter: "not A"

the event A

"A happens"

"And"

Conjunctions

Let B represent the event "the hand contains no clubs." Since there are

575,757 hands containing no clubs,

(the intersection of the set of elementary events constituting A, and the AB

set constituting B). A-B = ABc

"A and B"

There are 198,765 hands consisting of no clubs, and containing at least "A and not B"

one ace. Therefore

The event "A happens, but B doesn't" is just AB c, which is sometimes AcBc "not A and not B

written as A-B.

For example, the first relationship can be used to find the probability that

the dealt hand will contain at least one ace (A) and at least one club (B c).

Conjunctions

AB

B-A = BAc

"A and B"

"B and not A"

"Or"

Disjunctions

The event that either A or B (or both - the "or" is inclusive) happens is

denoted by AUB. If we add together all cases where A happens, and all

cases where B happens, then the cases where both A and B happen get

counted twice. Therefore,

As well, by comparing this chart with the previous one, we see that

"Either A, or B, or both"

(AUB)c = AcBc . shorter: "A or B"

Pr(AUB) = 1 - Pr(AcBc) .

(AUB)c "neither A nor B

Disjunctions

AUB

"Either A, or B, or both"

Summary

Examining the diagram to the right, we see seven events, any one of

which might be of interest.

A

Browsing back over the last two tabs, we find four relationships tying

the probabilities of these events together:

ABc

Pr(B) = Pr(BA) + Pr(BAc)

Pr(AUB) = 1 - Pr(AcBc)

AcBc

Why are these relationships of interest? Because, given the

probabilities of any three of the seven events, these four relationships

together determine all the other probabilities!

If you're trying to compute the probability of an event, and can't see how

to do the computation directly, these four "rules" (really, three rules, since

the first two involve the same idea) can help you to reformulate your

problem in a manner which makes the calculations easier.

B

AB BAc

AUB

Example

was exceeding the legal speed limit. Of course, a number of these

accidents involve drunk drivers and speeding. 68%

Assume that you already know that 68% of all fatal automobile accidents

involve drunk drivers (and possibly speeding as well, but possibly not),

55% involve speeding (and possibly a drunk driver, but possibly not), and

43% involve drunk drivers and speeding.

accident involved a drunk driver," and B = "the accident involved

speeding," then what we know is

which become

Pr(AUB) = Pr(A) + Pr(B) - Pr(AB) Pr(AUB) = 68% + 55% - 43

Therefore, for example, the probability that the accident involved neither

a drunk driver nor speeding is 20%. And the probability that it involved

speeding, but no drunk driver, is only 12%.

application in the context of the diagram is quite simple.

for which you are preparing a conference. In particular, you've noted the sex

and dining preference of each conference registrant.

Unfortunately, you've just spilled coffee on your notes! All you can still make

out is that 60% are male, 30% are female and want vegetarian meals, and

a total of 55% want meat platters (rather than vegetarian platters).

answers

What fraction of the group consists of men wanting meat platters? 45%

What fraction are women wanting meat platters? 10%

55%

43%

80% = 1 - Pr(AcBc)

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