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# Probability, Chance and Odds

## Probability, chance and odds are different ways of expressing the

likelihood of an event. Recall that probability is the ratio of the
number of favorable outcomes to the total number of possible
outcomes.
Probability = number of favorable outcomes
= number of possible outcomes
Thus the probability that this spinner will end up in region A is
1/4
D A
C B
Probability can be expressed in decimal form. Since the
fraction is equivalent to the decimal 0.25, the probability
that the spinner will stop in region A can be expressed as 0.25.
Recall that probabilities range from 0 (certain not to occur)
to 1 (certain to occur). It is usually easier to compare probabilities
when they are expressed as decimals than when they are expressed
as fractions.
Example 1 Which is more likely: rolling a total of 7 with one toss of a
pair of dot cubes or drawing a face card: with one draw from a normal
deck of cards?
. . .
Solution: The probability of rolling of a total of 7 with one toss of a pair
of dot cubes is 6/36 , which reduces to 1/6. The probability of
drawing a face card is 12/52, which reduces to 3/13. We will convert
1/6 and 3/13 to decimal form (rounded to two places) and then compare.
The greater the probability, the greater the likelihood, so drawing a face
card is more likely than rolling a total of 7.
Another way to describe the likelihood of an event is with odds. While
probability is the ratio of the number of favorable outcomes to the number
of possible outcomes, odds is the ratio of the number of favorable
outcomes to the
number of unfavorable outcomes.
Probability of rolling a total of 7 = 1/6 or about 0.17
Probability of drawing a face card = 3/13 or about 0.23
Odds = favorable to unfavorable
Using the spinner example, one outcome is A and three outcomes are
not A. Thus the odds of the spinner ending up in region A are
1 to 3
or
1:3
We can distinguish between theoretical probability and statistical
probability.
Theoretical probability can be calculated when the number of favorable
outcomes and the number of possible outcomes can be counted without
testing. Games of chance are based upon theoretical probability involving
actions with cards, dot cubes, spinners, and similar objects with countable
outcomes.
Statistical probability is used to determine the likelihood of an event
based upon a record of past experience. For example, a baseball manager
may select a pinch hitter by baseball player has had 125 hits in 375 at-bats.
The manager can calculate the probability that the player will get a hit by
dividing the players number of previous hits by the players number of
previous at-bats.
Probability of a hit = 125 hits = 1 =(aprox.) 0.333
375 at-bats 3
In statistical probability, we assume that the number
of times an event
happens out of the number of times the event could
have happened is
the probability of the event. Statistical probability
is used by the
insurance industry, which assesses risk and calculates
insurance
premiums on the basis of statistical records.
Knowing the probability of an event helps us predict the outcome of
repeated activity. For instance, knowing that the theoretical probability
of rolling a total of 7 with one toss of a pair of dot cubes is 1/6, we can
predict that over a large number of rolls, about 1/6 of the rolls will result
in a total of 7. If we graph the results of an activity subject to the laws
of probability, patterns may emerge that help us visualize the effects
of these laws.
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