Paul, Mani and World Cup winner

In Uncategorized on 11/07/2010 at 5:20 am

Whether it’s Paul the sea creature or Mani the bird, it’s all in the maths of luck or randomness.

Talking abt Paul: [M]athematicians point out that his run of predictions is not that extraordinary.

As Paul was predicting two possible outcomes (win or lose, and not a draw), he had a 1/64 chance of predicting six correct outcomes – a 1/2 chance of predicting the first game correctly, then a 1/4 chance of predicting the first two games, a 1/8 chance of predicting all the first three games, and so on.

The chances of him correctly predicting seven games, up to the final, is 1/128.


Chris Budd, professor of applied mathematics at the University of Bath, says that even highly experienced people find it difficult to predict the outcome of a football game, and compares Paul’s feat of “prophesy” to the tossing of a coin.

“If you toss a coin and it comes down heads six times, that is unlikely,” he says. “However it is not as unlikely as predicting which numbers will win the lottery, which is 1/14 million.”

“Mathematics can be spooky in the way it can appear to predict things,” he says.

BBC Online article.


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