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Posts Tagged "probability"


Care to Wager on the Supreme Court’s ACA Ruling?

Some people can’t wait for the U.S. Supreme Court announcement of its ruling on the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act (aka health care reform law), so they are betting on the outcome. Intrade, a popular online trading exchange, provides a platform for people to wager on whether or not future events will happen. More than [...]

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No Matter How Huge, Mega Millions Jackpot Will Always Be a Bad Bet

lottery ticket for mega millions

Yesterday my father-in-law asked me to buy him $100 in lottery tickets. He is ordinarily the kind of guy who would cite the quip “the lottery is a tax on people who can’t do math,” but these are not ordinary times. On Friday night the Mega Millions multi-state lottery will offer a $500 million jackpot, [...]

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Mathematician sees a Yankees-Dodgers World Series, but don’t pop that bubbly yet

Dodgers and Yankees at Ebbets Field, 1913

The National League Championship Series gets under way this evening when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Philadelphia Phillies, and tomorrow the American League follows suit as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim visit the New York Yankees. The outcome of these all-important seven-game series, which feed into the World Series, is anyone’s guess, but [...]

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Roots of Unity

Has Anyone Ever Flipped Heads 76 Times in a Row?

What are the odds? Image: Evelyn Lamb

Tom Stoppard’s absurdist play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead begins with one of them, Guildenstern (or is it Rosencrantz?), flipping coins. “Heads,” Rosencrantz says, and takes the coin. Guildenstern flips again. “Heads,” Rosencrantz says, and takes the coin. Another flip. “Heads.” Again, “Heads.” Soon we find out that Guildenstern has flipped 76 coins, and all [...]

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