Thursday, 16 November 2017

Answer to The Imitation Game

As you'll hear in the next podcast Ben cocks up the explanation of his original questions from Maths at: the Movies, The Imitation Game:

I have two children. One of them is a boy and they were born on a Tuesday.

What is the probability that both children are boys?



This is a hard question, and Ben ****ed up the explanation when he tried to do it live. So, as penance, we made him sit down and explain it as a video.



Here's a simpler question written out much nicer:

I have two children. One of them is a boy.
What is the probability that both children are boys?
Now you may think the probability is 50%, but that is not so (note that we are assuming that boy and girl births are equally likely). The reason is because we have more information about the children.

Suppose we denote a boy by "b" and a girl by "g". Further, we capitalise the letter to denote the elder child. In this way we could have the following combinations of children:
Bb
Gb
Bg
Gg
However, we know we have at least one boy, so we can't have Gg. Out of the possibilities that are left, namely Bb, Gb and Bg, there is only one way to get two boys, the chance is 1/3! Counter-intuitive no?

Note that if we had posed the problem as I have two children and my eldest is a boy then (using the above argument) the probability of have a second boy is then 1/2.

Probability can be a tricksy animal. Even for a Cambridge educated lecturer!

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