A guy with keys trynna open door [ E(X) and Var(X) problem]

So a guy attempts to open his front door with his $$n$$ keys, but of course only one key is right. If he eliminates incorrect keys as he goes, so he never tries a key more than once, find the expected value and the variance of the number of attempts required to open the door.

X: random variable of the number of attempts to open door

$$x \in {1,2,3, ... , n}$$ and $$p(x) = \frac{1}{(n+1)-x}$$

1. Expected Value $$E(X)=\sum_{x=1}^n xp(x)$$ $$=\sum_{x=1}^n x\frac{1}{(n+1-x)}$$
$$=\frac{-1}{6n(2n^2+3n-2)}$$

... Wolfram Alpha sum calculator ... https://www.wolframalpha.com/widget/widgetPopup.jsp?p=v&id=29c546473e1c796d6076bb18901b15e7&i0=4133000%20

Question: Where is my mistake?

Update:

Ok, so it should be $$=\sum_{x=1}^n x\frac{1}{n}$$ because, if I consider previous the failures of previous attempts, $$=1\frac{1}{n} + 2(\frac{n-1}{n})(\frac{1}{n-1}) + 3(\frac{n-1}{n})(\frac{n-2}{n-1})(\frac{1}{n-2}) ...$$ $$=\frac{1}{n}+2(\frac{1}{n}) + 3(\frac{1}{n}) ...$$ $$=\sum_{x=1}^n x\frac{1}{n}$$ $$=(\frac{1}{n})(\frac{n(n+1)}{2})$$

Is this right?

Therefore, $$E(x) = \frac{n+1}{2} and$$ $$Var(X)=\frac{n^2-1}{12}$$

• The calculation of probability that he opens the door on try number $x$ must take account of the probability that he failed on tries $1,2,\dots,x-1$ – saulspatz Mar 17 at 17:14
• In using wolfram alpha since a sum of positive terms cannot be negative, so there is a glitch somewhere – Conrad Mar 17 at 17:30
• What if he has a spare key on his bunch? That might make trynna better. – wolfies Mar 17 at 18:33
• Could be, but the problem says guy is drunk so he may not see well, especially at night; thus, could not find spare key. – Angery Doge Mar 18 at 1:33

If the guy randomly sorts the keys and then tries them in the sorted order, the probability that the correct key is at position $$x$$ is $$P(X=x)=\frac{1}{n}$$. If you want to calculate the probability using the conditional probabilities for the first $$x-1$$ attempts to fail, you will of course receive the same result: $$P(X=x) = \cfrac{1}{n+1-x}\prod_{k=1}^{x-1}\cfrac{n-k}{n+1-k} = \cfrac{1}{n+1-x}\cfrac{\prod_{k=1}^{x-1}(n-k)}{\prod_{k=1}^{x-1}(n+1-k)}=\cfrac{\prod_{k=2}^{x}(n+1-k)}{\prod_{k=1}^{x}(n+1-k)} = \cfrac{1}{n}$$ Therefore, $$E(X) = \sum_{x=1}^{n}x\frac{1}{n} = \frac{n(n+1)}{2}\cdot\frac{1}{n} = \frac{n+1}{2}$$ Maybe this helps?
The probability values $$p(x)$$ you have calculated are the probabilities that $$X$$ is at most $$x$$. The event $$X=x$$ is not independent of the event $$X=y$$ for $$y< x$$.
For any $$x\in\{1,\dots,n\}$$ we know that $$X=x$$ if and only if the guy chooses the wrong key for $$x-1$$ successive times, and then chooses the correct key at the $$x$$'th try. Now the probability that the first chosen key is correct is $$1/{n}$$. The second key has probability $$1/(n-1)$$, and in general $$p(x)=\frac{1}{n-x+1}$$ as you discovered. Notice though, that these are not the probabilities associated with the event $$X=x$$. However, we can use these probabilities to find the probability distribution $$P$$ of $$X$$. From the characterisation given in the beginning of the paragraph we thus have $$P(x)=\frac{1}{n-x+1}\prod_{i=1}^{x-1}\frac{n-i}{n-i+1}.$$ For $$x=1$$ we define the empty product to be $$1$$. With this probability distribution you can apply the usual calculations.