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Chapter 5 Probability in Our Daily Lives

Example 7
Multiplication rule

Guessing yet Passing a Pop Quiz

Picture the Scenario
For a three-question multiple-choice pop quiz, a student is totally unprepared and randomly guesses the answer to each question. If each question
has five options, then the probability of selecting the correct answer for any
given question is 1/5, or 0.20. With guessing, the response on one question
is not influenced by the response on another question. Thus, whether one
question is answered correctly is independent of whether or not another
question is answered correctly.
Questions to Explore
a. Find the probabilities of the possible student outcomes for the quiz, in
terms of whether each response is correct (C) or incorrect (I).
b. Find the probability that the student passes, answering at least two
questions correctly.
Think It Through
a. For each question P(C) = 0.20 and P(I) = 1 - 0.20 = 0.80. The
probability that the student answers all three questions correctly is
P(CCC) = P(C) * P(C) * P(C) = 0.20 * 0.20 * 0.20 = 0.008.
This would be unusual. Similarly, the probability of answering the first
two questions correctly and the third question incorrectly is
P(CCI) = P(C) * P(C) * P(I) = 0.20 * 0.20 * 0.80 = 0.032.
This is the same as P(CIC) and P(ICC), the other possible ways of
getting two correct. Figure 5.8 is a tree diagram showing how to
multiply probabilities to find the probabilities for all eight possible

Question 1 Question 2

Question 3 Sample
C (.2)

C (.2)
I (.8)
C (.2)
C (.2)
I (.8)
I (.8)
C (.2)
C (.2)
I (.8)
I (.8)
C (.2)
I (.8)
I (.8)



.2 .2 .2 = .008


.2 .2 .8 = .032


.2 .8 .2 = .032


.2 .8 .8 = .128


.8 .2 .2 = .032


.8 .2 .8 = .128


.8 .8 .2 = .128


.8 .8 .8 = .512

 Figure 5.8 Tree Diagram for Guessing on a Three-Question Pop Quiz. Each path
from the first set of branches to the third set determines one sample space outcome.
Multiplication of the probabilities along that path gives its probability, when trials are
independent. Question Would you expect trials to be independent if a student is not
merely guessing on every question? Why or why not?

Section 5.2 Finding Probabilities 227

b. The probability of at least two correct responses is
P(CCC) + P(CCI) + P(CIC) + P(ICC) = 0.008 + 3(0.032) = 0.104.
In summary, there is only about a 10% chance of passing when a student randomly guesses the answers.
As a check, you can see that the probabilities of the eight possible outcomes
sum to 1.0. The probabilities indicate that it is in a students best interests not
to rely on random guessing.
Try Exercise 5.15

Events Often Are Not Independent

In practice, events need not be independent. For instance, on a quiz with only two
questions, the instructor found the following proportions for the actual responses
of her students (I = incorrect, C = correct) :





Let A denote {first question correct} and let B denote {second question correct}.
Based on these probabilities,

From Section 3.1, the proportions

expressed in contingency table form

P(A) = P({CI, CC}) = 0.05 + 0.58 = 0.63

2nd Question
1st Question






P(B) = P({IC, CC}) = 0.11 + 0.58 = 0.69

P(A and B) = P({CC}) = 0.58.
If A and B were independent, then

A and B

P(A and B) = P(A) * P(B) = 0.63 * 0.69 = 0.43.

Since P(A and B) actually equaled 0.58, A and B were not independent.
Responses to different questions on a quiz are typically not independent. Most
students do not guess randomly. Students who get the first question correct may
have studied more than students who do not get the first question correct, and
thus they may also be more likely to get the second question correct.

In Practice Make Sure that Assuming Independence Is Realistic

Dont assume that events are independent unless you have given this assumption careful
thought and it seems plausible. In Section 5.3, you will learn more about how to find
probabilities when events are not independent.

Probability Rules
In this section, we have developed several rules for finding probabilities. Lets
summarize them.

SUMMARY: Rules for Finding Probabilities

The probability of each individual outcome is between 0 and 1, and the total of all the
individual probabilities equals 1. The probability of an event is the sum of the probabilities of the individual outcomes in that event.


Chapter 5 Probability in Our Daily Lives

For an event A and its complement Ac (not in A), P(A

( c) = 1 - P(A
The union of two events (that is, A occurs or B occurs or both) has
( or B) = P(A
(A) + P(B) - P(A
( and B).

When A and B are independent, the intersection of two events has

Two events A and B are disjoint when they have no common elements. Then

( and B) = P(A
(A) * P(B).

( and B) = 0, and thus P(A
( or B) = P(A
(A) + P(B).


Practicing the Basics

5.13 Student union poll Part of a student opinion poll at a

university asks students what they think of the quality
of the existing student union building on the campus.
The possible responses were great, good, fair, and poor.
Another part of the poll asked students how they feel
about a proposed fee increase to help fund the cost of
building a new student union. The possible responses to
this question were in favor, opposed, and no opinion.
a. List all potential outcomes in the sample space for
someone who is responding to both questions.
b. Show how a tree diagram can be used to display the
outcomes listed in part a.
5.14 Random digit A single random digit is selected using
software or a random number table.
a. State the sample space for the possible outcomes.
b. State the probability for each possible outcome, based
on what you know about the way random numbers are
c. Each outcome in a sample space must have probability
between 0 and 1, and the total of the probabilities must
equal 1. Show that your assignment of probabilities in
part b satisfies this rule.
5.15 Pop quiz A teacher gives a four-question unannounced
true-false pop quiz, with two possible answers to each
a. Use a tree diagram to show the possible response patterns, in terms of whether any given response is correct or
incorrect. How many outcomes are in the sample space?
b. An unprepared student guesses all the answers randomly. Find the probabilities of the possible outcomes
on the tree diagram.
c. Refer to part b. Using the tree diagram, evaluate the
probability of passing the quiz, which the teacher
defines as answering at least three questions correctly.
5.16 More true-false questions Your teacher gives a truefalse pop quiz with 10 questions.
a. Show that the number of possible outcomes for the sample space of possible sequences of 10 answers is 1024.
b. What is the complement of the event of getting at least
one of the questions wrong?
c. With random guessing, show that the probability of
getting at least one question wrong is 0.999.

5.17 Horse racing bets Two friends decide to go to the

track and place some bets. One friend remarks that in an
upcoming race, the number 5 horse is paying 50 to 1. This
means that anyone who bets on the 5 horse receives $50
for each $1 bet, if in fact the 5 horse wins the race. He
goes on to mention that it is a great bet, because there
are only eight horses running in the race, and therefore
the probability of horse 5 winning must be 1/8. Is the last
statement true or false? Explain.
5.18 Two girls A couple plans to have two children. Each
child is equally likely to be a girl or boy, with gender
independent of that of the other child.
a. Construct a sample space for the genders of the two
b. Find the probability that both children are girls.
c. Answer part b if in reality, for a given child, the chance
of a girl is 0.49.
5.19 Three children A couple plans on having three children.
Suppose that the probability of any given child being
female is 0.5, and also suppose that the genders of each
child are independent events.
a. Write out all outcomes in the sample space for the
genders of the three children.
b. What should be the probability associated with each
Using the sample space constructed in part a, find the
probability that the couple will have
c. two girls and one boy.
d. at least one child of each gender.
5.20 Wrong sample space A couple plans on having four
children. The father notes that the sample space for the
number of girls the couple can have is 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4.
He goes on to say that since there are five outcomes in
the sample space, and since each child is equally likely to
be a boy or girl, all five outcomes must be equally likely.
Therefore, the probability of all four children being girls is
1/5. Explain the flaw in his reasoning.
5.21 Insurance Every year the insurance industry spends considerable resources assessing risk probabilities. To accumulate a risk of about one in a million of death, you can
drive 100 miles, take a cross country plane flight,
work as a police officer for 10 hours, work in a coal mine


Chapter 5 Probability in Our Daily Lives

P(A | B) =

P(A and B)

The probability in the

denominator is always
for the "given" event

 Figure 5.9 Venn Diagram of Conditional Probability of Event A Given Event B. Of

the cases in which B occurred, P(A B) is the proportion in which A also occurred. Question
Sketch a representation of P(B A). Is P(A B) necessarily equal to P(B A)?

Example 8

The Triple Blood Test for Down Syndrome

Picture the Scenario
A diagnostic test for a condition is said to be positive if it states that the
condition is present and negative if it states that the condition is absent. How
accurate are diagnostic tests? One way to assess accuracy is to measure the
probabilities of the two types of possible error:
False positive: Test states the condition is present, but it is actually
False negative: Test states the condition is absent, but it is actually
The Triple Blood Test screens a pregnant woman and provides as estimated risk of her baby being born with the genetic disorder Down syndrome. This syndrome, which occurs in about 1 in 800 live births, arises from
an error in cell division that results in a fetus having an extra copy of chromosome 21. It is the most common genetic cause of mental impairment.
The chance of having a baby with Down syndrome increases after a woman
is 35 years old.
A study2 of 5282 women aged 35 or over analyzed the Triple Blood Test
to test its accuracy. It was reported that of the 5282 women, 48 of the 54 cases
of Down syndrome would have been identified using the test and 25 percent of
the unaffected pregnancies would have been identified as being at high risk for
Down syndrome (these are false positives).
Questions to Explore
a. Construct the contingency table that shows the counts for the possible outcomes of the blood test and whether the fetus has Down
b. Assuming the sample is representative of the population, estimate the
probability of a positive test for a randomly chosen pregnant woman
35 years or older.
c. Given that the diagnostic test result is positive, estimate the probability that Down syndrome truly is present.

J. Haddow et al., New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 330, pp. 11141118, 1994.

Section 5.3 Conditional Probability: The Probability of A Given B 233

Think It Through
a. Well use the following notation for the possible outcomes of the two
Down syndrome status : D = Down syndrome present, Dc = unaffected
Blood test result : POS = positive, NEG = negative.

Table 5.5 shows the four possible combinations of outcomes. From the
article quote, there were 54 cases of Down syndrome. This is the first row
total. Of them, 48 tested positive, so 54 - 48 = 6 tested negative. These
are the counts in the first row. There were 54 Down cases out of n = 5282,
so 5282 - 54 = 5228 cases were unaffected, event Dc. Thats the second
row total. Now, 25% of those 5228, or 0.25 * 5228 = 1307, would have a
positive test. The remaining 5228 - 1307 = 3921 would have a negative
test. These are the counts for the two cells in the second row.
Table 5.5 Contingency Table for Triple Blood Test of Down Syndrome
Blood Test
Down Syndrome Status




D (Down)



D (unaffected)








b. From Table 5.5, the estimated probability of a positive test is

P(POS) = 1355/5282 = 0.257.
c. The probability of Down syndrome, given that the test is positive, is
the conditional probability, P(D POS). Conditioning on a positive test
means we consider only the cases in the first column of Table 5.5. Of
the 1355 who tested positive, 48 cases actually had Down syndrome,
so P(D POS) = 48/1355 = 0.035. Lets see how to get this from the
definition of conditional probability,
P(D POS) =

P(D and POS)


Since P(POS) = 0.257 from part b and P(D and POS) = 48/5282 =
0.0091, we estimate P(D POS) = 0.0091/0.257 = 0.035. In summary,
of the women who tested positive, fewer than 4% actually had fetuses
with Down syndrome. This is somewhat comforting news to a woman
who has a positive test result.

The P(D | NEG) is not the same as the
false negative rate. We found in Example 8
that the P(D | NEG) = 0.0015. The false
negative rate is found by evaluating
P(NEG | D) = 6/54 = 0.11. Be careful to
watch the event being conditioned upon. 

So why should a woman undergo this test, as most positives are false positives? From Table 5.5, P(D) = 54/5282 = 0.0102, so we estimate about a
1% chance of Down syndrome for women aged 35 or over. Also from Table
5.5, P(D NEG) = 6/3927 = 0.0015, a bit more than 1 in 1000. A woman can
have much less worry about Down syndrome if she has a negative test result
because the chance of Down is then a bit more than 1 in 1000, compared to
1 in 100 overall.
In 2011, researchers announced a new and promising blood test for
detecting Downs syndrome using DNA. Researchers noted, however, that
more research is needed to improve the tests accuracy and that the smallscale study needed to be expanded to a larger-scale study of the population
Try Exercises 5.34 and 5.37


Chapter 5 Probability in Our Daily Lives

In Practice Conditional Probabilities in the Media

When you read or hear a news report that uses a probability statement, be careful to
distinguish whether it is reporting a conditional probability. Most statements are conditional
on some event and must be interpreted in that context. For instance, probabilities reported
by opinion polls are often conditional on a persons gender, race, or age group.

Multiplication Rule for Finding P(A and B)

From Section 5.2, when A and B are independent events, P(A and B) = P(A) *
P(B). The definition of conditional probability provides a more general formula
for P(A and B) that holds regardless of whether A and B are independent. We
can rewrite the definition P(A | B) P(A and B)/P(B), multiplying both
sides of the formula by P(B), to get P(B) * P(A B) = P(B) * [P(A and B)/
P(B)] = P(A and B), so that
P(A and B) = P(B) * P(A B).

Multiplication Rule for Evaluating P(A and B)

For events A and B, the probability that A and B both occur equals
P(A and B) = P(B) * P(A B).
Applying the conditional probability formula to P(B A), we also see that
P(A and B) = P(A) * P(B A).

Example 9
Multiplication rule

Double Faults in Tennis

Picture the Scenario
In a tennis match, on a given point, the player who is serving has two chances
to hit the ball in play. The ball must fall in the correct marked box area on
the opposite side of the net. A serve that misses that box is called a fault.
Most players hit the first serve very hard, resulting in a fair chance of making a fault. If they do make a fault, they hit the second serve less hard and
with some spin, making it more likely to be successful. Otherwise, with two
missesa double faultthey lose the point.
Question to Explore
The 2010 mens champion in the Wimbledon tournament was Rafael Nadal
of Spain. During the tournament, he made 68% of his first serves. He faulted
on the first serve 32% of the time (100 - 68 = 32). Given that he made a
fault with his first serve, he made a fault on his second serve only 9% of
the time. Assuming these are typical of his serving performance, what is the
probability that he makes a double fault when he serves?
Think It Through
Let F1 be the event that Nadal makes a fault with the first serve, and let F2 be the
event that he makes a fault with the second serve. We know P(F1) = 0.32 and

Section 5.3 Conditional Probability: The Probability of A Given B

Level of Happiness



Not too







a. Estimate the probability that a married adult is very

b. Estimate the probability that a married adult is very
happy, (i) given that their gender is male and (ii) given
that their gender is female.
c. For these subjects, are the events being very happy and
being a male independent? (Your answer will apply
merely to this sample. Chapter 11 will show how to
answer this for the population.)
5.40 Serena Williams serves Serena Williams won the 2010
Wimbledon Ladies Singles Championship. For the seven
matches she played in the tournament, her total number
of first serves was 379, total number of good first serves
was 256, and total number of double faults was 15.
a. Find the probability that her first serve is good.
b. Find the conditional probability of double faulting,
given that her first serve resulted in a fault.
c. On what percentage of her service points does she
double fault?
5.41 Shooting free throws Pro basketball player Shaquille
ONeal is a poor free-throw shooter. Consider situations
in which he shoots a pair of free throws. The probability
that he makes the first free throw is 0.50. Given that he
makes the first, suppose the probability that he makes the
second is 0.60. Given that he misses the first, suppose the
probability that he makes the second one is 0.40.
a. What is the probability that he makes both free
b. Find the probability that he makes one of the two free
throws (i) using the multiplicative rule with the two possible ways he can do this and (ii) by defining this as the
complement of making neither or both of the free throws.
c. Are the results of the free throws independent?


5.42 Drawing cards A standard card deck has 52 cards consisting of 26 black and 26 red cards. Three cards are dealt
from a shuffled deck, without replacement.
a. True or false: The probability of being dealt three
black cards is (1/2) * (1/2) * (1/2) = 1/8. If true,
explain why. If false, show how to get the correct
b. Let A = first card red and B = second card red. Are
A and B independent? Explain why or why not.
c. Answer parts a and b if each card is replaced in the
deck after being dealt.
5.43 Drawing more cards A standard deck of poker playing cards contains four suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts,
and spades) and 13 different cards of each suit. During a
hand of poker, 5 of the 52 cards have been exposed. Of
the exposed cards, 3 were diamonds. Tony will have the
opportunity to draw two more cards, and he has surmised
that in order to win the hand, each of those two cards will
need to be diamonds. What is Tonys probability of winning the hand? (Assume the two unexposed cards are not
5.44 Big loser in Lotto Example 10 showed that the probability of having the winning ticket in Lotto South was
0.00000007. Find the probability of holding a ticket that
has zero winning numbers out of the 6 numbers selected
(without replacement) for the winning ticket out of the 49
possible numbers.
5.45 Family with two children For a family with two children,
let A denote {first child is female}, let B denote (at least
one child is female}, and let C denote {both children are
a. Show that P (C A) = 1/2.
b. Are A and C independent events? Why or why not?
c. Find P (C B).
d. Describe what makes P (C A) different than P(C B).
5.46 Checking independence In three independent flips of a
balanced coin, let A denote {first flip is a head}, B denote
{second flip is a head}, C denote {first two flips are heads},
and D denote {three heads on the three flips}.
a. Find the probabilities of A, B, C, and D.
b. Which, if any, pairs of these events are independent?