The distribution notation is X ~ Exp(m). Therefore, X ~ Exp(0.25).
The probability density function is f(x) = me-mx. The number e = 2.71828182846... It is a number that is used often in mathematics. Scientific calculators have the key "ex." If you enter one for x, the calculator will display the value e.
The curve is:
f(x) = 0.25e–0.25x where x is at least zero and m = 0.25.
For example, f(5) = 0.25e−(0.25)(5) = 0.072. The postal clerk spends five minutes with the customers. The graph is as follows:
Notice the graph is a declining curve. When x = 0,
f(x) = 0.25e(−0.25)(0) = (0.25)(1) = 0.25 = m. The maximum value on the y-axis is m.
a) Find P(4 < x < 5).
You can do these calculations easily on a calculator.
P(x < k) = 0.50, k = 2.8 minutes (calculator or computer)
Half of all customers are finished within 2.8 minutes.
You can also do the calculation as follows:
P(x < k) = 0.50 and P(x < k) = 1 –e–0.25k
Therefore, 0.50 = 1 − e−0.25k and e−0.25k = 1 − 0.50 = 0.5
Take natural logs: ln(e–0.25k) = ln(0.50). So, –0.25k = ln(0.50)
Solve for k:
P(x < 10) = 0.4866
50th percentile = 10.40
On the average, a certain computer part lasts ten years. The length of time the computer part lasts is exponentially distributed.a) What is the probability that a computer part lasts more than 7 years?
Solve for k:
P(9 < x < 11) = P(x < 11) – P(x < 9) = (1 – e(–0.1)(11)) – (1 – e(–0.1)(9)) = 0.6671 – 0.5934 = 0.0737. The probability that a computer part lasts between nine and 11 years is 0.0737.
In example 1, recall that the amount of time between customers is exponentially distributed with a mean of two minutes (X ~ Exp (0.5)). Suppose that five minutes have elapsed since the last customer arrived. Since an unusually long amount of time has now elapsed, it would seem to be more likely for a customer to arrive within the next minute. With the exponential distribution, this is not the case–the additional time spent waiting for the next customer does not depend on how much time has already elapsed since the last customer. This is referred to as the memoryless property. Specifically, the memoryless property says that
P (X > r + t | X > r) = P (X > t) for all r ≥ 0 and t ≥ 0
For example, if five minutes has elapsed since the last customer arrived, then the probability that more than one minute will elapse before the next customer arrives is computed by using r = 5 and t = 1 in the foregoing equation.
P(X > 5 + 1 | X > 5) = P(X > 1) = e(–0.5)(1) ≈ 0.6065.
This is the same probability as that of waiting more than one minute for a customer to arrive after the previous arrival.
The exponential distribution is often used to model the longevity of an electrical or mechanical device. In example 1, the lifetime of a certain computer part has the exponential distribution with a mean of ten years (X ~ Exp(0.1)). The memoryless property says that knowledge of what has occurred in the past has no effect on future probabilities. In this case it means that an old part is not any more likely to break down at any particular time than a brand new part. In other words, the part stays as good as new until it suddenly breaks. For example, if the part has already lasted ten years, then the probability that it lasts another seven years is P(X > 17|X > 10) =P(X > 7) = 0.4966.
There is an interesting relationship between the exponential distribution and the Poisson distribution. Suppose that the time that elapses between two successive events follows the exponential distribution with a mean of μ units of time. Also assume that these times are independent, meaning that the time between events is not affected by the times between previous events. If these assumptions hold, then the number of events per unit time follows a Poisson distribution with mean λ = 1/μ. Recall that if X has the Poisson distribution with mean λ, then
At a police station in a large city, calls come in at an average rate of four calls per minute. Assume that the time that elapses from one call to the next has the exponential distribution. Take note that we are concerned only with the rate at which calls come in, and we are ignoring the time spent on the phone. We must also assume that the times spent between calls are independent. This means that a particularly long delay between two calls does not mean that there will be a shorter waiting period for the next call. We may then deduce that the total number of calls received during a time period has the Poisson distribution.
The exponential distribution has the memoryless property, which says that future probabilities do not depend on any past information. Mathematically, it says that P(X > x + k|X > x) = P(X > k).
If T represents the waiting time between events, and if T ∼ Exp(λ), then the number of events X per unit time follows the Poisson distribution with mean λ. The probability density function of
Exponential: X ~ Exp(m) where m = the decay parameter
Data from the United States Census Bureau.
Data from World Earthquakes, 2013. Available online at http://www.world-earthquakes.com/ (accessed June 11, 2013).
“No-hitter.” Baseball-Reference.com, 2013. Available online at http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/No-hitter (accessed June 11, 2013).
Zhou, Rick. “Exponential Distribution lecture slides.” Available online at www.public.iastate.edu/~riczw/stat330s11/lecture/lec13.pdf (accessed June 11, 2013).
MATH 1280 • University of the People