Poisson Probability Distribution

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Poisson Probability Distribution

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specific number of occurrences takes place within a given specified interval

(usually time or space), you can use the Poisson distribution. For instance, the

probability that an employee will take 15 sick days within a year, you can use the

Poisson distribution.

Definition:

x that satisfies the following conditions.

occurs in a given interval. The interval can be an interval of time, area, or

volume.

2. The probability of two or more success in any sufficiently small subinterval

is 0. For example, the fixed interval might be any time between 0 and 5

minutes. A subinterval could be any time between 1 and 2 minutes.

3. The probability of the event occurring is the same for any two intervals of

equal length.

4. The number of occurrences (success) in any interval is independent of the

number of occurrences in any other interval provided the intervals are not

overlapping.

mean number of occurrences per interval unit.

Example 1:

a) What is the probability that in any given month four accidents will occur at

this intersection?

b) What is the probability that more than four accidents will occur in any given

month at the intersection?

In Example 1 you used a formula to determine a Poisson probability. You can also

use a table to find Poisson probabilities. Table 4 lists the Poisson probability for

selected values of x and . You can also use technology tools, such as MINITAB,

Excel, and the TI-83/84, to find the Poisson probabilities as well.

Example 2:

A population count shows that there is an average of 3.6 rabbits per acre living in

a field. Use a table to find the probability that two rabbits are found on any given

acre for the field.

Step3; With poissonpdf ( on the HOME screen, type the value of mean, followed

by the number of successes, x.

If cars arrive at McDonald’s at the rate of 2 per minute between 12:00 noon and

1:00 p.m., how many cars would you expect to arrive between the hours of 12:00

noon and 12:05 p.m.? Considering that 2 cars arrive every minute (on average)

and we are observing the arrival of cars for 5 minutes, it might seem reasonable

that we expect 2(5)=10 cars to arrive. Since the expected value of a random

variables is the mean of the random variable, it seems reasonable that

for interval t. (the Greek letter Lambda) represents the average number of

occurrences of the event in some interval of length 1.

A random variable x that follows a Poisson process with parameter has mean (or

expected value) and standard deviation given by the formulas

Example 3:

roam in an enclosed area of 1000 square feet. The area is divided into 200

subsections of 5 square feet each.

a) Assuming that the beetles spread evenly throughout the enclosed area,

how many beetles are expected to be within each subsection?

b) What is the standard deviation of x, the number of beetles in a particular

subsection?

c) What is the probability of finding exactly 8 beetles in a particular

subsection?

d) Would it be unusual to find more than 16 beetles in a particular subsection?

If the beetles spread evenly throughout the enclosed region, we can model the

distribution of the beetles using the Poisson probabilities.

and σ=

P(8) =0.1126

particular subsection.

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