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Mathematically Confusing

Articles / Personal Stuff/Random News
Date: Jun 29, 2010 - 09:44 AM
Check out a problem to contemplate on a Tuesday.

If you dare.

Gardner himself tripped up on his simpler Two Children Problem. Initially, he gave the answer as 1/3, but he later realized that the problem is ambiguous in the same way that Peres argues that the Tuesday Birthday Problem is. Suppose that you already knew that Mr. Smith had two children, and then you meet him on the street with a boy he introduces as his son. In that case, the probability the other child is a son would be 1/2, just as intuition suggests. On the other hand, suppose that you are looking for a male beagle puppy. You want a puppy that has been raised with a sibling for good socialization but you are afraid it will be hard to select just a single puppy from a large litter. So you find a breeder who has exactly two pups and call to confirm that at least one is male. Then the probability that the other is male is 1/3.




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