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Unformatted text preview: April 21, 2005 Physics 681-481; CS 483: Discussion of #6 1. The probability that you get the marked item on the first attempt is 1 4 . The probability that you get the marked item on the second attempt is also 1 4 : the probability, 3 4 , that you fail on the first attempt times the probability, 1 3 that you succeed on the second. The probability that you have to make a third attempt is 1 2 : the probability, 3 4 that you fail on the first attempt times the probability 2 3 that you fail on the second. You never need to make a fourth attempt, since if the third attempt also does not produce the marked item you know it is the fourth. Therefore the mean number of attempts is 1 4 1 + 1 4 2 + 1 2 3 = 2 1 4 . Alternatively, note that you can do no better than to try out the four items in a completely random order, since you have no information at the start, and failure at any stage teaches you nothing about which of the remaining items is likely to be the marked one. So whatever order you pick the items in, it is equally likely that the marked item will be the first, second, third, or fourth on the list. Since the probability is 1 4 that the marked item is first on the list, 1 4 that it is second, and 1 4 + 1 4 = 1 2 that it is third or fourth, the mean number of attempts is indeed 1 4 1 + 1 4 2 + 1 2 3 = 2 1 4 ....
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This note was uploaded on 09/28/2008 for the course PHYS 481 taught by Professor Anon during the Spring '05 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).
- Spring '05