# Probability

## Permutation vs Combination: Clarifying Our Terms

A couple recent questions dealt with details in the way permutations and combinations are explained. What do we mean when we say that “order matters” for a permutation, and that there is “no repetition” or that the things being chosen are “different”? Teachers need to know how students hear such words.

## Dealing with Infinity in Probability Problems

Last week we looked at the probability that one of infinitely many possible triangles is an acute triangle, and ended up thinking about continuous probability distributions in general. I thought it might be good to look at some old questions dealing with similar issues in various ways. One will even come back to that same …

## Probability That a Random Triangle is Acute

Some time ago we looked into the probability that a random set of sides (from, say, a broken stick) form a triangle. A recent question asked about the probability that a random triangle is acute (all angles acute) or obtuse (at least one angle obtuse), which led to more discussion of what it means for …

## Probability of Consecutive Numbers in a Lottery

A recent question about lottery numbers reveals that a seemingly special event is in fact surprisingly common: namely, the presence of consecutive numbers in a lottery drawing. The calculation is an interesting one, and we’ll also see a way to check our answer, then compare it to reality.

## Slow and Fast Ways to Solve a Probability Problem

Last week’s discussion reminded me of another question, from July, about a probability problem that was solved in a hard (but educational) way and an easy way. This instance is more extreme, and, due to its length, requires extreme editing in order to fit here.

## Different Ways to Solve a Probability Problem

Sometimes there are several ways a problem could be solved, and we encourage students to pursue the path they’ve started on, rather than give them a method that may not be natural to them. (And we encourage them to start, if they haven’t yet, in part so we can see what might be most helpful …

## Zero Factorial: Why Does 0! = 1 ?

We’ve been talking about the oddities of zero, and I want to close with another issue similar to last week’s $$0^0$$. All our questions will be essentially identical apart from details of context: “We know zero factorial equals 1; but why?” This isn’t nearly as controversial as the others, but will bring closure to the …