Probability - Mathematical Treatment

Mathematical Treatment

See also: Probability axioms

Consider an experiment that can produce a number of results. The collection of all results is called the sample space of the experiment. The power set of the sample space is formed by considering all different collections of possible results. For example, rolling a die can produce six possible results. One collection of possible results gives an odd number on the die. Thus, the subset {1,3,5} is an element of the power set of the sample space of die rolls. These collections are called "events." In this case, {1,3,5} is the event that the die falls on some odd number. If the results that actually occur fall in a given event, the event is said to have occurred.

A probability is a way of assigning every event a value between zero and one, with the requirement that the event made up of all possible results (in our example, the event {1,2,3,4,5,6}) is assigned a value of one. To qualify as a probability, the assignment of values must satisfy the requirement that if you look at a collection of mutually exclusive events (events with no common results, e.g., the events {1,6}, {3}, and {2,4} are all mutually exclusive), the probability that at least one of the events will occur is given by the sum of the probabilities of all the individual events.

The probability of an event A is written as P(A), p(A) or Pr(A). This mathematical definition of probability can extend to infinite sample spaces, and even uncountable sample spaces, using the concept of a measure.

The opposite or complement of an event A is the event (that is, the event of A not occurring); its probability is given by P(not A) = 1 - P(A). As an example, the chance of not rolling a six on a six-sided die is 1 – (chance of rolling a six) . See Complementary event for a more complete treatment.

If both events A and B occur on a single performance of an experiment, this is called the intersection or joint probability of A and B, denoted as .

Read more about this topic:  Probability

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