A Probability Puzzle From Dilbert’s Author

I’ve been reading this book, by Scott Adams, the author of Dilbert. Inside, I found a probability puzzle!

Scott Adams talks about Volleyball games, and how he noticed that the team that reaches 17 first usually wins. (A win in volleyball is 25 points.)

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Math and Medicine

 

This question was posed to a group of medical professionals.

A woman is tested for a particular type of cancer, and the test is positive. Worried, she asks how likely it is that she really has cancer. Which of these is the best answer?

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Football Fever!

[This is a back-issue of one of this site’s newsletters]

Remember Paul the Octopus?

Paul the Octopus sadly passed away on 26 October 2010, at the ripe old age of 33 months, but not before shooting to fame for his successful predictions of matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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Apple Cutting Puzzle

When I cut an apple for my kids, I normally cut it into 6 pieces. I give the biggest piece to my younger son, since he insists on only eating one piece, but I want him to eat more apple.
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Djokovic vs Federer vs Rob Minto

Via twitter : Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic often seem to face each other in the semifinals. Too often. This article by Rob Minto tries to explain that the chance of them meeting in any one competition should be 50/50. However, they’ve met 16 times out of 21 instead. Rob asks : is this too many?

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7 Billion

According to official sources, the world’s 7 billionth person was born today. This is a fiction. The goal is to raise awareness about the world’s population. It’s working – the news seems to be all over the blogosphere.

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The Math Of “Collect All 12”

“Free toy in every pack! Collect all 12!”

Have you ever wondered why companies offer promotions like this? How many packets of cereal would you have to buy to have a decent chance of collecting all twelve? Let’s see what the math says!

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Dice and Polynomials – Part 1

Can polynomials help calculate probabilities?
Can polynomials help calculate probabilities?

Imagine you have two coins. One side is blank, and one has a single dot. You flip the coins. How many ways can you get 0 dots? How many ways can you get 1 dot? How many ways can you get 2 dots?

If you got answers like “1 way / 2 ways / 1 way” you got it right.

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The Math of Conspiracies and Doomsdays

Yesterday was my grandfather’s 105th birthday party. He actually turns 105 tomorrow, on the 23rd of May. Yesterday was also supposed to be the end of the world, according to a very small splinter group of Christians. Clearly, the guy who made that prediction was thoroughly convinced, and thoroughly wrong.

Why do people make predictions like that? Let’s see what the math says! But first, more about my grandfather’s birthday party…

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Dinosaur Dodger Tips and Strategy

I recently uploaded a game I call “Dinosaur Dodger“. It’s based on an interesting paradox I read about on this blog, by an economist who has authored a number of good books. The paradox is called the “Paradox of the Absent Minded Driver”. It goes like this : imagine a driver, driving home along a highway. They need to take the second exit to get off, but for some reason they can’t recall which exit they are at when they get to an exit.

The Absent Minded Driver paradox, and Dinosaur Didger, involve finding the best strategy to get home on this track
The Absent Minded Driver paradox, and Dinosaur Didger, involve finding the best strategy to get home on this track

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