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# CONSTRUCTING PROBABILITY

DISTRIBUTIONS
Lesson Objectives

## • illustrate a probability distribution for a

discrete random variable and its properties;
• compute probabilities corresponding to a
given random variable; and
• construct the probability mass function of a
discrete random variable and its
corresponding histogram.
Pre-Assessment A

Recap: P E 

n E 
nS 
Pre-Assessment B
Recap:
Evaluating an algebraic expression means finding the value
of an expression when the variables take on certain values.
Lesson Introduction
Decision-making is an important aspect in business,
education, insurance, and other real-life situations.
Many decisions are made by assigning probabilities to
all possible outcomes pertaining to the situation and
then evaluating the results.

## For instance, an insurance company might be able to

assign probabilities to the number of vehicles a family
owns. This information will help the company in making
decisions regarding future financial situations. This
situation requires the use of random variables and
probability distribution.
Discussion Points

## A discrete probability distribution or a

probability mass function consists of the
values a random variable can assume and the
corresponding probabilities of the values.
Discussion Points
Illustrative Example: Finding the probability
corresponding to a given random variable

Number of Tails
Suppose three coins are tossed. Let Y be the
random variable representing the number of
tails that occur. Find the probability of each of
the values of the random variable Y.
Discussion Points

Step 1:
Determine the sample space. Let H represent head
and T represent tail.

## The sample space for this experiment is:

S = {TTT, TTH, THT, HTT, HHT, HTH, THH, HHH}
Discussion Points
Step 2:
Count the number of tails
in each outcome in the
sample space and assign
this number to this
outcome.
Discussion Points

Step 3:
There are four possible values of the random
variable Y representing the number of tails. These
are 0, 1, 2, and 3. Assign probability values P(Y) to
each value of the random variable.
Discussion Points
Continuation Step 3

## • There are 8 possible outcomes and no tail occurs once, so the

probability that we shall assign to the random variable 0 is 1/8 .
• There are 8 possible outcomes and 1 tail occurs three times, so
the probability that we shall assign to the random variable 1 is
3/8 .
• There are 8 possible outcomes and 2 tails occur three times, so
the probability that we shall assign to the random variable 2 is
3/8 .
• There are 8 possible outcomes and 3 tails occur once, so the
probability that we shall assign to the random variable 3 is 1/8 .
Discussion Points
Continuation Step 3

## The Probability Distribution or the Probability

Mass Function of Discrete Random Variable Y
Example 1
Number of Blue Balls

## Two balls are drawn in succession without

replacement from an urn containing 5 red balls
and 6 blue balls. Let Z be the random variable
representing the number of blue balls. Construct
the probability distribution of the random
variable Z.
Solution to Example 1

Step 1:
Determine the sample space. Let B represent the blue
ball and R represent the red ball.

## The sample space for this experiment is:

S = {RR, RB, BR, BB}
Solution to Example 1
Step 2:
Count the number of blue balls in each outcome in the
sample space and assign this number to this outcome.
Solution to Example 1

Step 3:
There are three possible values of the random
variable Z representing the number of blue balls.
These are 0, 1, and 2. Assign probability values P(Z)
to each value of the random variable.
Solution to Example 1
Continuation Step 3

## • There are 4 possible outcomes and no blue ball occurs

once, so the probability that we shall assign to the random
variable 0 is 1/4 .
• There are 4 possible outcomes and 1 blue ball occurs two
times, so the probability that we shall assign to the random
variable 1 is or 1/2 .
• There are 4 possible outcomes and 2 blue balls occur once,
so the probability that we shall assign to the random
variable 2 is 1/4 .
Solution to Example 1
Continuation Step 3

## The Probability Distribution or the Probability

Mass Function of Discrete Random Variable Z
Solution to Example 1
The Histogram for the Probability Distribution of
the Discrete Random Variable Z
Example 2
Number of Defective Cell Phones

## Suppose three cell phones are tested at random.

Let D represent the defective cell phone and let
N represent the non-defective cell phone. If we
let X be the random variable for the number of
defective cell phones, construct the probability
distribution of the random variable X.
Solution to Example 1

Step 1:
Determine the sample space. Let D represent the
defective cell phone and N represent the non-
defective cell phone.

## The sample space for this experiment is:

S = {NNN, NND, NDN, DNN, NDD, DND, DDN, DDD}
Solution to Example 2
Step 2:
Count the number of
defective cell phones
in each outcome in
the sample space
and assign this
number to this
outcome.
Solution to Example 2

Step 3:
There are four possible values of the random
variable X representing the number of defective
cell phones. These are 0, 1, 2, and 3. Assign
probability values P(X), to each value of the
random variable.
Solution to Example 2
Continuation Step 3

## • There are 8 possible outcomes and no defective cell phone occurs

once, so the probability that we shall assign to the random variable 0
is 1/8 .
• There are 8 possible outcomes and 1 defective cell phone occurs three
times, so the probability that we shall assign to the random variable 1
is 3/8 .
• There are 8 possible outcomes and 2 defective cell phones occur three
times, so the probability that we shall assign to the random variable 2
is 3/8 .
• There are 8 possible outcomes and 3 defective cell phones occur once,
so the probability that we shall assign to the random variable 3 is 1/8 .
Solution to Example 2
Continuation Step 3

## Probability Distribution or Probability Mass

function of Discrete Random Variable X
Solution to Example 2
The Histogram for the Probability Distribution of
the Discrete Random Variable X
Exercise 1 Determine whether the distribution
represents a probability distribution. Explain
Exercise 2 Construct the probability distribution for the random
variables described in each of the following situations. Draw the
corresponding histogram for each probability distribution.

## Four coins are tossed. Let Z be the random variable

representing the number of heads that occur. Find
the values of the random variable Z.
Exercise 3 Construct the probability distribution for the random
variables described in each of the following situations. Draw the
corresponding histogram for each probability distribution.

## Let T be a random variable giving the number of

heads in three tosses of a coin. List the elements of
the sample space S for the three tosses of the coin
and assign a value to each sample point.
Exercise 4 Determine whether the given values can serve as the
values of a probability distribution of the random variable X that
can take on only the values 1, 2, and 3. Explain your answer.
Exercise 5 Construct a probability distribution for the data and
draw a histogram of the distribution.
Summary

## A discrete probability distribution or a

probability mass function consists of the
values a random variable can assume and the
corresponding probabilities of the values.
Summary
Properties of a Probability Distribution
– The probability of each value of the random
variable must be between or equal to 0 and 1. In
symbol, we write it as 0 ≤ P(X) ≤ 1.

## – The sum of the probabilities of all values of the

random variable must be equal to 1. In symbol,
we write it as ∑P(X) = 1.