Articles on Probability

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The original 1812 gerrymander district designed to favor Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry. Elkanah Tisdale

Can math solve the congressional districting problem?

The gerrymandered district has been part of the US political landscape for two centuries. Impartial math suggests several methods for drawing fair, competitive congressional districts.
This sign might actually be appealing to treasure hunters in the distant future. Alan English CPA/Flickr

Three problems with the way we think about nuclear power

Our natural difficulties in thinking about the future, low probabilities and considering risk make many of our views about nuclear power problematic.
Maths can help in the hunt for MH370. EPA/Australian Department of Defence

How statistics can help in the mission to find MH370

That the Malaysian government, with the help of the UK’s INMARSAT, was able to dramatically narrow down the search area for flight MH370, made it seem much more likely that the wreckage of the plane might…
We are used to thinking in probabilities: will it be stormy enough to need an umbrella? Luis Martins

In science, the only certainty is uncertainty

In the lead up to the release next month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report we are exploring concepts of confidence and certainty in climate science. You…
We share a birthday? Really? What are the chances? massdistraction

The birthday problem: what are the odds of sharing b-days?

How many people do you have to put into a room before you are guaranteed that at least two of them share a birthday? We all know and love the blissful feeling of winning an argument. Well, trust me, that’s…
Going against your intuition could increase your chances of winning a car instead of a goat, according to the Monty Hall problem. mgbutterfly

The Monty Hall problem: going with your gut will get your goat

The game show host adjusts his bow tie and flashes you an oh-so-wicked smile as he brings your attention to three closed doors. “Behind one of these doors is the prize of your dreams!” he announces excitedly…
A successful gamble on climate will require more than a lucky guess. kfergos/Flickr

If you want to roll the climate dice, you should know the odds

Imagine a six-sided die with four red faces, one green face and one blue face. I am going to roll the die, and before rolling I will ask you to predict which colour it will land on: red, green or blue…

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