This tag is for basic questions about probability and for questions in which one wants to calculate a probability, expected value, variance, standard deviation, or similar quantity. For questions about the theoretical footing of probability (especially using measure theory), please ask under ...

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236
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6answers
48k views

In Russian roulette, is it best to go first?

Assume that we are playing a game of Russian roulette (6 chambers). Assume that there is no shuffling after the shot is fired. I was wondering if you have an advantage in going first? If so, how big ...
229
votes
7answers
67k views

Multiple-choice question about the probability of a random answer to itself being correct

I found this math "problem" on the internet, and I'm wondering if it has an answer: Question: If you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the probability that you will be correct? ...
213
votes
13answers
28k views

Given an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite amount of time, would one of them write Hamlet?

Of course, we've all heard the colloquialism "If a bunch of monkeys pound on a typewriter, eventually one of them will write Hamlet." I have a (not very mathematically intelligent) friend who ...
152
votes
25answers
12k views

Can a coin with an unknown bias be treated as fair?

This morning, I wanted to flip a coin to make a decision but no coins were in reach. There was however an SD card on my desk: Given that I don't know the bias of this SD card, would flipping it be ...
116
votes
6answers
12k views

What's 4 times more likely than 80%?

There's an 80% probability of a certain outcome, we get some new information that means that outcome is 4 times more likely to occur. What's the new probability as a percentage and how do you work it ...
111
votes
16answers
30k views

Monty hall problem extended.

I just learned about the Monty Hall problem and found it quite amazing. So I thought about extending the problem a bit to understand more about it. In this modification of the Monty Hall Problem, ...
98
votes
4answers
13k views

What is the probability that a point chosen randomly from inside an equilateral triangle is closer to the center than to any of the edges?

My friend gave me this puzzle: What is the probability that a point chosen at random from the interior of an equilateral triangle is closer to the center than any of its edges? I tried to ...
95
votes
7answers
7k views

probability $2/4$ vs $3/6$

Recently I was asked the following in an interview: If you are a pretty good basketball player, and were betting on whether you could make $2$ out of $4$ or $3$ out of $6$ baskets, which would you ...
92
votes
8answers
3k views

Probability that a stick randomly broken in five places can form a tetrahedron

Edit (June. 2015) This question has been moved to MathOverflow, where a recent write-up finds a similar approximation as leonbloy's post below; see here. Randomly break a stick in five places. ...
88
votes
9answers
16k views

If I flip a coin 1000 times in a row and it lands on heads all 1000 times, what is the probability that it's an unfair coin?

Consider a two-sided coin. If I flip it $1000$ times and it lands heads up for each flip, what is the probability that the coin is unfair, and how do we quantify that if it is unfair? Furthermore, ...
83
votes
10answers
9k views

Mathematician vs. Computer: A Game

A mathematician and a computer are playing a game: First, the mathematician chooses an integer from the range $2,...,1000$. Then, the computer chooses an integer uniformly at random from the same ...
81
votes
19answers
18k views

Should I put number combinations like 1111111 onto my lottery ticket?

Suppose the winning combination consists of 7 digits, each digit randomly ranging from 0 to 9. So the probability of 1111111, 3141592 and 8174249 are the same. But 1111111 seems(to me) far less likely ...
79
votes
4answers
6k views

The “pepperoni pizza problem”

This problem arose in a different context at work, but I have translated it to pizza. Suppose you have a circular pizza of radius $R$. Upon this disc, $n$ pepperoni will be distributed completely ...
78
votes
10answers
6k views

Would you ever stop rolling the die? [duplicate]

You have a six-sided die. You keep a cumulative total of your dice rolls. (E.g. if you roll a 3, then a 5, then a 2, your cumulative total is 10.) If your cumulative total is ever equal to a perfect ...
75
votes
14answers
14k views

I roll a die repeatedly until I get 6, and then count the number of 3s I got. What's my expected number of 3s?

Consider the following experiment. I roll a die repeatedly until the die returns 6, then I count the number of times 3 appeared in the random variable $X$. What is $E[X]$? Thoughts: I expect to ...
73
votes
10answers
32k views

Given a die, what is the probability that the second roll of a die will be less than the first roll?

If you are given a die and asked to roll it twice. What is the probability that the value of the second roll will be less than the value of the first roll?
65
votes
6answers
6k views

Is it generally accepted that if you throw a dart at a number line you will NEVER hit a rational number?

In the book "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea", author Charles Seife claims that a dart thrown at the real number line would never hit a rational number. He doesn't say that it's only ...
64
votes
7answers
8k views

What is the chance to get a parking ticket in half an hour if the chance to get a ticket is 80% in 1 hour?

This sounds more like a brain teaser, but I had some kink to think it through :( Suppose you're parking at a non-parking zone, the probability to get a parking ticket is 80% in 1 hour, what is the ...
62
votes
6answers
5k views

If we randomly select 25 integers between 1 and 100, how many consecutive integers should we expect?

Question: Suppose we have one hundred seats, numbered 1 through 100. We randomly select 25 of these seats. What is the expected number of selected pairs of seats that are consecutive? (To clarify: we ...
62
votes
3answers
8k views

Mathematical research of Pokémon

In competitive Pokémon-play, two players pick a team of six Pokémon out of the 718 available. These are picked independently, that is, player $A$ is unaware of player $B$'s choice of Pokémon. Some ...
62
votes
4answers
5k views

Why did my friend lose all his money?

Not sure if this is a question for math.se or stats.se, but here we go: Our MUD (Multi-User-Dungeon, a sort of textbased world of warcraft) has a casino where players can play a simple roulette. My ...
59
votes
20answers
12k views

Coin flipping probability game ; 7 flips vs 8 flips

Your friend flips a coin 7 times and you flip a coin 8 times; the person who got the most tails wins. If you get an equal amount, your friend wins. There is a 50% chance of you winning the game and a ...
58
votes
8answers
32k views

Probability that random moves in the game 2048 will win

I have recently played the game 2048, created by Gabriele Cirulli, which is fun. I suggest trying if you have not. But my brother posed this question to me about the game: If he were to write a ...
57
votes
6answers
9k views

Chance of meeting in a bar

Two people have to spend exactly 15 consecutive minutes in a bar on a given day, between 12:00 and 13:00. Assuming uniform arrival times, what is the probability they will meet? I am mainly ...
53
votes
21answers
6k views

How to generate a random number between 1 and 10 with a six-sided die?

Just for fun, I am trying to find a good method to generate a random number between 1 and 10 (uniformly) with an unbiased six-sided die. I found a way, but it may requires a lot of steps before ...
53
votes
4answers
2k views

What's the probability that a sequence of coin flips never has twice as many heads as tails?

I gave my friend this problem as a brainteaser; while her attempted solution didn't work, it raised an interesting question. I flip a fair coin repeatedly and record the results. I stop as soon as ...
50
votes
1answer
5k views

On average, how many friends would I need to have to have at least one friend's birthday every day?

I know that because of the birthday problem, even after 365 friends, you're going to have a lot of doubles and that there's also an infinitesimal chance that even with infinite friends that there's ...
49
votes
8answers
75k views

What is the best book to learn probability?

Question is quite straight... I'm not very good in this subject but need to understand at a good level.
49
votes
1answer
2k views

Identity for simple 1D random walk

The question is to find a purely probabilistic proof of the following identity, valid for every integer $n\geqslant1$, where $(S_n)_{n\geqslant0}$ denotes a standard simple random walk: $$ ...
48
votes
17answers
8k views

Is the Law of Large Numbers empirically proven?

Does this reflect the real world and what is the empirical evidence behind this? Layman here so please avoid abstract math in your response. The Law of Large Numbers states that the average of the ...
47
votes
9answers
21k views

Taking Seats on a Plane

This is a neat little problem that I was discussing today with my lab group out at lunch. Not particularly difficult but interesting implications nonetheless Imagine there are a 100 people in line to ...
47
votes
9answers
8k views

What do $\pi$ and $e$ stand for in the normal distribution formula?

I'm a very beginner in mathematics and there is one thing I've been wondering recently. The formula for the normal distribution is: ...
47
votes
10answers
7k views

The Monty Hall problem

I was watching the movie 21 yesterday, and in the first 15 minutes or so the main character is in a classroom, being asked a "trick" question (in the sense that the teacher believes that he'll get the ...
47
votes
5answers
7k views

Convergence of $np(n)$ where $p(n)=\sum_{j=\lceil n/2\rceil}^{n-1} {p(j)\over j}$

Some years ago I was interested in the following Markov chain whose state space is the positive integers. The chain begins at state "1", and from state "n" the chain next jumps to a state uniformly ...
46
votes
1answer
1k views

How likely is it not to be anyone's best friend?

A teenage acquaintance of mine lamented: Every one of my friends is better friends with somebody else. Thanks to my knowledge of mathematics I could inform her that she's not alone and ...
44
votes
5answers
6k views

Intuition behind Conditional Expectation

I'm struggling with the concept of conditional expectation. First of all, if you have a link to any explanation that goes beyond showing that it is a generalization of elementary intuitive concepts, ...
44
votes
4answers
1k views

Colliding Bullets

I saw this problem yesterday on reddit and I can't come up with a reasonable way to work it out. Once per second, a bullet is fired starting from $x=0$ with a uniformly random speed in $[0,1]$. If ...
44
votes
8answers
20k views

How to determine if coin comes up heads more often than tails?

Not a math student, so forgive me if the question seems trivial or if I pose it "wrong". Here goes... Say I'm flipping a coin a n times. I am not sure if it's a "fair" coin, meaning I am not sure if ...
43
votes
3answers
1k views

Expected number of people to not get shot?

Suppose $n$ gangsters are randomly positioned in a square room such that the positions of any three gangsters do not form an isosceles triangle. At midnight, each gangster shoots the person that is ...
43
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the chance that a rabbit won't fall off a table if you put it somewhere and it moves.

If you would put a rabbit randomly on a circular table with radius $r= 1$ meter and it moves $1$ meter in a random direction, what is the chance it won't fall off? I tried to do this using ...
42
votes
2answers
18k views

Expectation of the maximum of gaussian random variables

Is there an exact or good approximate expression for the expectation, variance or other moments of the maximum of $n$ independent, identically distributed gaussian random variables where $n$ is large? ...
41
votes
8answers
10k views

Lebesgue integral basics

I'm having trouble finding a good explanation of the Lebesgue integral. As per the definition, it is the expectation of a random variable. Then how does it model the area under the curve? Let's take ...
41
votes
2answers
31k views

Expected time to roll all 1 through 6 on a die

What is the average number of times it would it take to roll a fair 6-sided die and get all numbers on the die? The order in which the numbers appear does not matter. I had this questions explained ...
41
votes
6answers
31k views

Probability of 3 people in a room of 30 having the same birthday

I have been looking at the birthday problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_problem) and I am trying to figure out what the probability of 3 people sharing a birthday in a room of 30 people is. ...
40
votes
4answers
6k views

Free throw interview question

I recently had an interview question that posed the following... Suppose you are shooting free throws and each shot has a 60% chance of going in (there is no "learning" effect and "depreciation" ...
40
votes
15answers
73k views

In a family with two children, what are the chances, if one of the children is a girl, that both children are girls?

In a family with two children, what are the chances, if one of the children is a girl, that both children are girls? I just dipped into a book, The Drunkard's Walk - How Randomness Rules Our Lives, ...
40
votes
4answers
8k views

Probability for the length of the longest run in $n$ Bernoulli trials

Suppose a biased coin (probability of head being $p$) was flipped $n$ times. I would like to find the probability that the length of the longest run of heads, say $\ell_n$, exceeds a given number $m$, ...
40
votes
1answer
1k views

Does a randomly chosen series diverge?

Pick a point at random in the interval $[0,1]$, call it $P_1$. Pick another point at random in the interval $[0,P_1]$, call it $P_2$. Pick another point at random in the interval $[0,P2]$, call it ...
39
votes
4answers
50k views

Probability density function vs. probability mass function

I've a confession to make. I've been using pdf's and pmf's without actually knowing what they are. The idea that I've been having so long is that density = area under the curve but if I look at it ...
39
votes
3answers
2k views

Solutions to $\binom{n}{5} = 2 \binom{m}{5}$

In Finite Mathematics by Lial et al. (10th ed.), problem 8.3.34 says: On National Public Radio, the Weekend Edition program posed the following probability problem: Given a certain number of ...