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Teaching Probability and Combinatorics Using Lotteries
Joint Statistical Meetings (2009)
  • Patricia B. Humphrey, Georgia Southern University

Lotteries fund education in many states. They've even been called a "tax on people who flunked Statistics." Many probability topics that students sometimes have trouble grasping can be framed in the context of a lottery. For example, if the "Mega Millions" jackpot is now up to big numbers - should I take a chance? What is the expected value of such a wager? There are many other interesting ideas with combinatorics that can be viewed from the perspective of a lottery - for example, pairs of consecutive digits seem to happen fairly often. Is this expected? What's the chance of longer strings of consecutive digits? What's the chance the winning set of numbers has an odd (or even) sum? What's the chance a lottery picks the same set of digits two nights in a row?

  • Lotteries,
  • Combinatorics,
  • Probability,
  • Expected Value
Publication Date
August 4, 2009
Citation Information
Patricia B. Humphrey. "Teaching Probability and Combinatorics Using Lotteries" Joint Statistical Meetings. Washington D.C.. Aug. 2009.