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by
Lauretta J. Fox
In this unit of curriculum we will try to improve the students’ understanding of the elementary ideas included in probability theory. The unit will clearly define important words and ideas. Formulas for solving problems will be presented. Permutations, combinations, and compound probability will be discussed. Applications of the theory to practical problems will be demonstrated in the unit. Following the explanation of each topic a set of practice exercises will be given. There are several basic objectives for this unit of study. Upon completion of the unit, the student will be able to:
The material developed here may be taught as a complete unit in algebra 3 classes, or parts of it may be extracted and taught at the following levels of instruction: (1) in seventh or eighth grade mathematics classes; (2) in high school applied mathematics classes; (3) in first year algebra or second year algebra classes; (4) in adult basic education classes.
 understand and appreciate the use of probability in everyday life.
 solve problems involving permutations and combinations.
 define basic terms used in mathematical probability.
 compute the probability that a certain event will happen.
5678  5687  5768  5786  5867  5876 
6785  6758  6587  6578  6857  6875 
7568  7586  7856  7865  7658  7685 
8567  8576  8657  8675  8756  8765 
The product of the number 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 4! = 24
of choices for each space  permutations. 
symbol n! is read n factorial. By definition, 0!= 1.
If n > 0, n! = 1 x 2 x 3 x . . . x (n1) x n
nPn = n!  4P4 = 4! = 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 24 
The number of permutations of six objects taken three at a time is 6 x 5 x 4 = 120.
6P3 = 6 x 5 x 4 = 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 = ____6!____ = 120
3 x 2 x 1  (63)! 
____ (nr)!
Example 1: How many different ways can five books be arranged on a shelf?
Solution: 5P5 = 5! = 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 = 120
Example 2: How many two digit numbers can be made from the six digits 7, 2, 4, 5, 9, 3 if no digit can be used more than once?
Solution: 6P2 = __ 6__! = 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 = 30
(62)!  1 x 2 x 3 x 4 
Solution: 4 x 4 x 4 = 64
Example 4: How many even integers of four places can be formed from the digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5?
Solution: 4 x 3 x 2 x 2 = 48
Example 5: How many five digit telephone numbers can be made from the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9?
Solution: 9 x 9 x 9 x 9 x 9 = 59,049
Exercises:
 ____1.) In how many ways can the offices of president, secretary and treasurer be filled from a group of nine people?
 2.) In how many ways can five girls be arranged in a straight line?
 3.) In how many ways can seven boys be arranged in a straight line if one particular boy is to be at the beginning of the line, one particular boy is to be in the middle of the line, and one particular boy is to be at the end of the line?
 4.) How many integers between 10 and 100 can be formed by the digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 if no repetition is allowed? How many can be formed if repetition is allowed? 5.) How many oddnumbered integers can be formed by the digits 2, 3, 6, 5, 9, 8 if each digit may be used only once?
 6.) In how many different ways can the letters of the word number be arranged if each arrangement begins with a vowel?
 7.) A theater has five entrances. In how many ways can you enter and leave by a different entrance?
 8.) In how many ways can you mail three letters in six letter boxes if no two are mailed in the same box?
 9.) Milltown has eight grocery stores and six meat markets. In how many ways can you buy a pound of hot dogs and a bag of flour?
 10.) Four people enter a bus in which there are six empty seats. In how many ways can the people be seated?
16*63 1  6*36  166*3  1636*  136*6  1366* 
6*631  6*613  6*136  6*163  6*316  6*361 
516*3  6136*  6316*  636*1  66*13  66*31 
316*6  3166*  36*16  36*61  3616*  366*1 
4! = 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 = _24_ = 12
2! 1 x 2 2
The number of distinct permutations of n objects of which s are alike, t are alike, etc. is
n! _
s! t! . . .
Example: How many different permutations can be made using all the letters of the word Connecticut?
Solution: The word Connecticut contains eleven letters including three C’s, two N’s, and two T’s. The number of different permutations of these letters is
11! = 3! x 4 x 5 X 6 x 7 x 8 x 9 x 10 x 11
3! 2! 2!  3! x 2 x 2 
Exercises
 1.) How many different permutations can be made using all the letters of the word dinner?
 2.) How many distinct permutations can be made using all the letters of the word (a) challenge (b) banana (c) staff (d) tuition (e) assassination (f) committee?
 3.) How many different seven digit numbers can be made using all the seven digits 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5?
 4.) In how many ways can five nickels, three dimes, four pennies and a quarter be distributed among thirteen people so that each person may receive one coin?
 5.) How many signals can be made by raising four red flags, two green flags, and one white flag on a pole at the same time?
1. In general, the number of combinations of n objects taken n at a time is one. nCn =
1. When the number of combinations of n objects, taken n at a time, is multiplied by n!, the result equals nPn.
____________ nPn
nC n x n! = nP n  or  nC n= n; 
nC r = nP y =  n!  
r! =  (n—r )! r! 
nC nĐr = n! = n! = nC r
[n(n=r)] ! (nr)!  r! (nr)! 
2! (402)!  2x38! 
Example 1: In how many ways can a committee of four be chosen from ten people?
Solution: 10C4 = 10! = 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6! = 210
(104): 4! 6! x 4 x 3 x 2
Example 2: How many combinations can be made from seven objects, using them five at a time?
Solution: 7^{C}5 = 7! = 7 x 6 x 5! = 42 = 21
(75)! 5!  2! 5! 2 
Solution: 60^{C}57 = 60^{C}3 = 60! = 60!
(603)!  3! 57! 3!  
= 60 x 59 x 58 x 57! = 34,220  
57! x 1 x 2 x 3 
 1.) Find the number of combinations of five objects taken from a group of nine objects.
 2.) How many combinations of four items are there in a given set of six items?
 3.) How many diagonals can be drawn in an octagon?
 4.) In how many ways can seven questions out of ten be chosen on an examination?
 5.) In how many ways can three books be chosen from five books?
 6.) From a group of twelve ladies a committee of three is to be selected. In how many ways can this committee be formed with Mrs. Adams on the committee, but with Mrs. Jones excluded, if these two are part of the group of twelve?
 7.) How many committees can be formed from a group of eight men, if one particular member of the group is to be included and two other members of the group are to be excluded from the committee?
Example 1: Each positive integer from one to five inclusive is written on a piece of paper, and the pieces of paper are shuffled. List a sample space for the outcome of drawing one piece of paper.
Solution: Any one of the five numbers is equally likely to be drawn. The sample space is (1,2,3,4,5).
Example 2: Two jelly beans are to be drawn from a jar known to contain only red jelly beans and green jelly beans. List a sample space for the result of the drawing.
Solution: Since the jelly beans must be red or green, a sample space is
{ (R,G), (R,R), (G,R), (G,G)}
Exercises
Complete each statement in exercises 1—4.
 1.) A ___ ___ is a sample in which each member of a population is equally likely to be selected.
 2.) A sample is ___ when certain individuals are favored in a selection.
 3.) The result of an experiment is called an ___ or an ___
 4.) The set of all possible outcomes is known as a ___.
 5.) Each letter in the word flower is written on a card and the cards are shuffled. List a sample space for the outcome of drawing one card.
 6.) Two balls are to be drawn successively from a bag known to contain only yellow balls and purple balls. List a sample space for the experiment.
 7.) List a sample space that indicates all possible outcomes when two dice are thrown.
 8.) List a sample space to show all possible outcomes when a family has three children.
P(E)= h/n P(not E) = f/n
The sum of the probability that an event will happen, and the probability that it will fail to happen is 1.
h/n + f/n = 1
If it is certain that an event will happen, the probability of a favorable outcome is 1. If an event is certain to fail, the probability that it will happen is 0. The probability that an event will happen, P(E), ranges from 0 to 1.
0 P(E) 1
Example 1: What is the probability of throwing a four in one throw of a die?
Solution: The die may fall in any one of six ways. Only one of these will be “4”. The probability of throwing a four is 1/6.
Example 2: The faces of a cube are marked with the letters A, A, B, C, D, E. If the cube is tossed, what is the probability that an A will turn up?
Solution: The cube may turn up six different ways. There are two ways in which an A can turn up. The probability that an A will turn up is 2/6 or 1/3.
Example 3: A committee of three is to be chosen from ten girls. If Ann, Betty and Carol are among the group of ten girls, what is the probability that all three of them will be on the committee?
Solution: The total number of committees of three girls that can be chosen from ten girls is
10^{C}3 = 10! = 10 x 9 x 8 x 7! = 120
(103! 3! = 7! x 3 x 2
Ann, Betty, and Carol form one of these selections. The probability that the committee will consist of Ann, Betty and Carol is 1/120.
Exercises
 1.) A bag contains 24 balls. Five of the balls are red, four are green, seven are blue, and eight are yellow. What is the probability that a ball picked at random will be (a) red? (b) green? (c) blue? (d) yellow?
 2.) There are twentyeight students in a class. Sixteen are girls, and twelve are boys. Find the probability that a student selected at random will be a girl.
 3.) Find the probability that a number selected at random from the set of numbers 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 21, 28, 30 will be divisible by 7.
 4.) If you select a letter at random from the alphabet, what is the probability that it will be a consonant?
 5.) If a number is selected at random from the set of numbers 1, 3, 17, 25, 71, what is the probability that the number is (a) an odd digit? (b) an even digit? (c) divisible by 3? (d) a prime number? (e) a composite number?
 6.) If two dice are thrown, what is the probability of getting a sum of eight?
 7.) Four marbles are drawn at random from a bag containing five orange marbles and seven brown marbles. What is the probability that (a) all four marbles are orange? (b) all four marbles are brown?
 8.) If six cards are drawn at random from a deck of 52 cards, what is the probability that they are all spades?
 9.) If a coin is thrown, what is the probability that it will turn up “tails”?
 10.) In Hillcross High School there are 300 freshmen, 280 sophomores, 275 juniors, and 256 seniors. What is the probability that a student selected at random will be (a) a freshman? (b) a sophomore? (c) a junior? (d) a senior?
The probability of one or the other of two mutually exclusive events happening is the sum of the separate probabilities of these events. If X and Y represent two mutually exclusive events
P(X or Y) = P(X) + P(Y)
This is known as the addition theorem and may be extended to any number of mutually eXclusive events.
Example 1: If a bag contains four blue marbles, six yellow marbles, and five green marbles, what is the probability that in one drawing a person will pick either a blue marble or a green marble?
Solution: There are fifteen marbles in the bag. The probability that a blue marble will be selected is 4/15. The probability that a green marble will be drawn is 5/15 or 1/3.
P(B or G)—P(B) + P(G) = 4/15 + 5/15 = 9/15 = 3/5
The probability that either a blue marble or a green marble will be drawn is 3/5.
Example 2: If a die is thrown, what is the probability that either a two or a six will come up?
Solution: The die can come up any one of six ways. The probability that a two will come up is 1/6. The probability that a six will come up is 1/6.
P(2 or 6) = P(2) + P(6) = 1/6 + 1/6 = 2/6 = 1/3
The probability that either a two or a six will come up is 1/3.
Exercises:
 1.) Are the following pairs of events mutually exclusive?
 ____a.) Living in New Haven and working in New York.
 ____b.) Being a freshman and being a junior in high school.
 ____c.) Being a professor and being an author of a book.
 ____d.) Drawing a red card and drawing the ace of spades.
 ____e.) Drawing a face card and drawing the six of hearts from a normal deck of cards.
 2.) If the probabilities that Joan, Beverly and Evelyn will be elected secretary of a ski club are 1/8, 2/5, and 1/3 respectively, find the probability that one of the three will be elected.
 3.) If the probabilities that John and Harry will be valedictorian of a high school class are 1/4 and 3/7 respectively, what is the probability that either John or Harry will be valedictorian?
 4.) Chris and Janet are among twenty girls who enter a tennis tournament. What is the probability that either one of these two girls will win the tournament?
 5.) In a drawer are six white gloves, four black gloves, and eight brown gloves. If a glove is picked at random, what is the probability that it will be either white or brown?
The probability that two independent events will both happen is the product of the separate probabilities. If X and Y are independent events, the probability that both X and Y will happen may be found by the formula
P(X and Y) = P(X) X P(Y)
Example: If a die is thrown twice, what is the probability that a five will come up on the first throw, and a three will come up on the second throw?
Solution: The probability that a five will come up the first time is 1/6. The probability that a three will come up the second time is 1/6.
P(5 and 3) = P(5) x P(3) = 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/36
The probability that both events will happen is 1/36.
To determine the probability of event X or event Y happening, when the two events are not mutually exclusive:
1.) Find the sum of the separate probabilities.
2.) From this sum subtract the probability that both events will occur.
P(X or Y) = P(X) + P(Y)—P(X and Y)
Example 1: When a card is drawn at random from a normal deck of 52 cards, what is the probability that it will be either an ace or a spade?
Solution: The probability of drawing an ace from the deck is 4/52.
The probability of drawing a spade is 13/52. The probability of drawing the ace of spades is 1/52.
The probability of drawing either an ace or a spade is:
P(ace) + P(spade)—P(ace of spades)
4/52 + 13/52—1/52 = 16/52 = 4/13
Example 2: If two dice are thrown, what is the probability that one of them will come up less than five?
Solution: The dice can come up the following ways:
11  21  31  41  51  61 
12  22  32  42  52  62 
13  23  33  43  53  63 
14  24  34  44  54  64 
15  25  35  45  55  65 
16  26  36  46  56  66 
The probability that the second die will come up less than 5 is 24/36.
The probability that both dice will come up less than 5 is 16/36.
The probability that one of them will come up less than 5 is
24/36 + 24/36—16/36 = 32/36 = 8/9
Exercises:
 1.) If the probabilities that Mary and Sue will receive awards in a contest are 3/5 and 1/3 respectively, what is the probability that one or the other will receive an award?
 2.) If five coins are tossed, what is the probability that all five coins will turn up heads?
 3.) Find the probability that a person will throw 4, 8, and 10 on the first, second, and third tosses of a pair of dice.
 4.) If two dice are thrown, what is the probability that one of them will come up greater than four?
 5.) A bag contains six white balls, four green balls, and three brown balls. If three balls are drawn, one at a time, and the ball is replaced after each drawing, what is the probability that the balls drawn will be green, white and brown?
 6.) A box contains four spools of black thread, six spools of brown thread, and ten spools of white thread. A spool is drawn, replaced, then a second spool is drawn. What is the probability that either a black or a brown spool is drawn?
 7.) A card is drawn from a standard deck of 52 cards, replaced, and a second card is drawn. What is the probability that both cards are tens?
 8.) The probability that Joe will solve a certain problem is 3/5, that Jane will solve it is 5/6, and that Sam will solve it is 1/4, What is the probability that Joe and Jane will solve it, and Sam will not solve it?
The probability that two dependent events will happen may be expressed as follows: If pl is the probability that event X will happen and, after X has happened, p2 is the probability that event Y will happen, then the probability that the events will occur in the order X,Y is p1p2, the product of their respective probabilities.
Exercises:
 1.) A bag contains five green marbles, four yellow marbles, and nine white marbles. If two marbles are drawn in succession, and the first marble is not replaced before the second is drawn, what is the probability that:
 ____a.) the second marble is yellow, if the first marble drawn is green?
 ____b.) the second marble is white, if the first marble drawn is yellow?
 ____c.) both marbles are green?
 ____d.) both marbles are yellow?
 ____e.) both marbles are white?
 2.) A boX contains ten slips of paper. Three slips are marked with the letter G, two slips are marked M, and five slips are marked K. If two slips of paper are drawn in succession, and the first is not replaced before the second is drawn, what is the probability that:
 ____a.) the first slip is marked G, and the second is marked K?
 ____b.) the first slip is marked G, and the second is marked H?
 ____c.) the first is marked H, and the second is marked G?
 ____d.) the first is marked K, and the second is marked G?
 ____e.) the first is marked H, and the second is marked K?
 ____f.) the first slip is marked K, and the second slip is marked M?
 ____g.) both slips are marked G?
 ____h.) both slips are marked M?
 ____i.) both slips are marked K?
 3.) The probability that Mr. Smith will be elected president is 5/7, and if he is elected, the probability that he will appoint Mr. Jones attorney general is 2/3. Find the probability that Mr. Jones will be attorney general.
Permutations, combinations, and probability are clearly explained in Chapter 14. Many practice exercises and illustrations are included.
Kline, William R., et al. Foundations of Advanced Mathematics. New York: American Book Company, 1965.
A fine textbook for advanced high school algebra classes. It includes a comprehensive explanation of permutations, combinations, and probability.
Mayor, John R., and Wilcox, Marie S. Algebra Second Course. Second Edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice— Hall, Incorporated, 1961.
Statistics and probability are explained in Chapter 12.
Morgan, Frank M., and Paige, Burnham L. Algebra 2. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1958.
Permutations, combinations and probability are included as optional topics to be studied in Algebra 2.
Rees, Paul K., and Sparks, Fred W. Algebra and Trigonometry. New York: McGrawHill Book Company, Incorporated, 1962.
Chapter 27 contains a detailed discussion of permutations, combinations and probability.
Runyon, Richard P., and Haber, Audrey. Fundamentals of Behavioral Statistics. Fifth Edition. Reading, Massachusetts: AddisonWesley Publishing Company, 1984.
This text provides excellent resource material on statistics for teachers.
Vannatta, Glen D., et al. Advanced High School Mathematics. Expanded Edition. Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Books, Incorporated, 1965.
A nice explanation of permutations, combinations and probability is given in Chapter 11.
Willoughby, Stephen S., and Vogeli, Bruce R. Probability and Statistics. Morristown, New Jersey: Silver Burdett Company, 1968.
A textbook designed for use in a one semester precalculus course in probability and statistics.
This text includes a very interesting chapter on probability and statistics with delightful illustrations and many practice exercises.
Dilley, Clyde A., et al. Heath Algebra 1. Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and Company, 1987.
A nice introduction to probability is given at the end of the standard first year algebra course.
Dolciani, Mary P. et al. Algebra Structure and Method Book
1. Boston: HoughtonMifflin Company, 1986.
A brief introduction to probability is given for use at the end of the Algebra 1 course.
———. Modern Algebra and Trigonometry Book 2. Boston: HoughtonMifflin Company, 1965.
Elementary ideas used in the study of probability are presented. A fine textbook for use in an Algebra 2 course.
Greenberg, Herbert J., et al. SRA Mathematics. Chicago: Science Research Associates, Incorporated, 1978.
Simple experiments are included in the text to increase the students’ knowledge of probability.
Troutman, Andria P., et al. Laidlaw Mathematics Brown Book. River Forest, Illinois: Laidlaw Brothers Publishers, 1978.
Chapter 13 presents the basic idea of probability in a very simplified manner.
Troutman, Andria P., et al. Laidlaw Mathematics Gold Book. River Forest, Illinois: Laidlaw Brothers Publishers, 1978.
A nicely illustrated text for middle school students. The author discusses probability in a very clear, concise manner.
White, Myron R. Advanced Algebra. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Incorporated, 1960.
A section on permutations, combinations, and probability has been designed for use in advanced algebra classes on the high school level.
Contents of 1987 Volume V  Directory of Volumes  Index  YaleNew Haven Teachers Institute

