New version page

MIT 6 042J - Chapter 18 Introduction to Probability

Documents in this Course
Counting

Counting

55 pages

Graphs

Graphs

19 pages

Proofs

Proofs

14 pages

Proofs

Proofs

18 pages

Proofs

Proofs

18 pages

Quiz 1

Quiz 1

9 pages

Quiz 2

Quiz 2

11 pages

Load more
Upgrade to remove ads
Upgrade to remove ads
Unformatted text preview:

Chapter 18 Introduction to Probability Probability plays a key role in the sciences —”hard” and social —including com-puter science. Many algorithms rely on randomization. Investigating their cor-rectness and performance requires probability theory. Moreover, computer sys-tems designs, such as memory management, branch prediction, packet routing, and load balancing are based on probabilistic assumptions and analyses. Probabil-ity is central as well in related subjects such as information theory, cryptography, artificial intelligence, and game theory. But we’ll start with a more down-to-earth application: getting a prize in a game show. 18.1 Monty Hall In the September 9, 1990 issue of Parade magazine, the columnist Marilyn vos Sa-vant responded to this letter: Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say number 1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say number 3, which has a goat. He says to you, ”Do you want to pick door number 2?” Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors? Craig. F. Whitaker Columbia, MD The letter describes a situation like one faced by contestants on the 1970’s game show Let’s Make a Deal, hosted by Monty Hall and Carol Merrill. Marilyn replied that the contestant should indeed switch. She explained that if the car was behind either of the two unpicked doors —which is twice as likely as the the car being behind the picked door —the contestant wins by switching. But she soon received a torrent of letters, many from mathematicians, telling her that she was wrong. The problem generated thousands of hours of heated debate. 409410 CHAPTER 18. INTRODUCTION TO PROBABILITY This incident highlights a fact about probability: the subject uncovers lots of examples where ordinary intuition leads to completely wrong conclusions. So un-til you’ve studied probabilities enough to have refined your intuition, a way to avoid errors is to fall back on a rigorous, systematic approach such as the Four Step Method. 18.1.1 The Four Step Method Every probability problem involves some sort of randomized experiment, process, or game. And each such problem involves two distinct challenges: 1. How do we model the situation mathematically? 2. How do we solve the resulting mathematical problem? In this section, we introduce a four step approach to questions of the form, “What is the probability that —– ?” In this approach, we build a probabilistic model step-by-step, formalizing the original question in terms of that model. Remark-ably, the structured thinking that this approach imposes provides simple solutions to many famously-confusing problems. For example, as you’ll see, the four step method cuts through the confusion surrounding the Monty Hall problem like a Ginsu knife. However, more complex probability questions may spin off chal-lenging counting, summing, and approximation problems— which, fortunately, you’ve already spent weeks learning how to solve. 18.1.2 Clarifying the Problem Craig’s original letter to Marilyn vos Savant is a bit vague, so we must make some assumptions in order to have any hope of modeling the game formally: 1. The car is equally likely to be hidden behind each of the three doors. 2. The player is equally likely to pick each of the three doors, regardless of the car’s location. 3. After the player picks a door, the host must open a different door with a goat behind it and offer the player the choice of staying with the original door or switching. 4. If the host has a choice of which door to open, then he is equally likely to select each of them. In making these assumptions, we’re reading a lot into Craig Whitaker’s letter. Other interpretations are at least as defensible, and some actually lead to differ-ent answers. But let’s accept these assumptions for now and address the question, “What is the probability that a player who switches wins the car?”411 18.1. MONTY HALL 18.1.3 Step 1: Find the Sample Space Our first objective is to identify all the possible outcomes of the experiment. A typical experiment involves several randomly-determined quantities. For exam-ple, the Monty Hall game involves three such quantities: 1. The door concealing the car. 2. The door initially chosen by the player. 3. The door that the host opens to reveal a goat. Every possible combination of these randomly-determined quantities is called an outcome. The set of all possible outcomes is called the sample space for the experi-ment. A tree diagram is a graphical tool that can help us work through the four step approach when the number of outcomes is not too large or the problem is nicely structured. In particular, we can use a tree diagram to help understand the sam-ple space of an experiment. The first randomly-determined quantity in our ex-periment is the door concealing the prize. We represent this as a tree with three branches: carlocationCABIn this diagram, the doors are called A, B, and C instead of 1, 2, and 3 because we’ll be adding a lot of other numbers to the picture later. Now, for each possible location of the prize, the player could initially choose any of the three doors. We represent this in a second layer added to the tree. Then a third layer represents the possibilities of the final step when the host opens a door to reveal a goat:� � 412 CHAPTER 18. INTRODUCTION TO PROBABILITY carlocationplayer’sinitial guessdoorrevealedCCCABABABCABCABACACCBABoutcomeB(A,A,B)(A,A,C)(A,B,C)(B,A,C)(B,B,A)(B,B,C)(B,C,A)(C,A,B)(C,B,A)(C,C,A)(C,C,B)(A,C,B)Notice that the third layer reflects the fact that the host has either one choice or two, depending on the position of the car and the door initially selected by the player. For example, if the prize is behind door A and the player picks door B, then the host must open door C. However, if the prize is behind door A and the player picks door A, then the host could open either door B or door C. Now let’s relate this picture to the terms we introduced earlier: the leaves of the tree represent outcomes of the experiment, and the set of all leaves represents the sample space. Thus, for this experiment, the sample space consists of 12 outcomes. For reference, we’ve labeled each outcome with a triple of doors


View Full Document
Download Chapter 18 Introduction to Probability
Our administrator received your request to download this document. We will send you the file to your email shortly.
Loading Unlocking...
Login

Join to view Chapter 18 Introduction to Probability and access 3M+ class-specific study document.

or
We will never post anything without your permission.
Don't have an account?
Sign Up

Join to view Chapter 18 Introduction to Probability 2 2 and access 3M+ class-specific study document.

or

By creating an account you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use

Already a member?