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Chapter Four
Discrete Random Variables

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McGraw-Hill/Irwin

Copyright 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Discrete Random Variables


4.1
4.2
4.3
*4.4

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Two Types of Random Variables


Discrete Probability Distributions
The Binomial Distribution
The Poisson Distribution

4.1 Random Variables


A random variable is a variable that assumes
numerical values that are determined by the
outcome of an experiment.
Discrete random variable: Possible values can be
counted or listed. [e.g. the number of defective units
in a batch of 20, a listener rating (on a scale of 1 to
5) in a AccuRating music survey]
Continuous random variable: May assume any
numerical value in one or more intervals. [e.g. the
waiting time for a credit card authorization, the
interest rate charged on a business loan.]
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4.2 Discrete Probability


Distributions
The probability distribution of a discrete random variable is a table,
graph, or formula that gives the probability associated with each
possible value that the variable can assume.

Example 4.3: Number of Radios


Sold at Sound City in a Week
x, Radios
p(x), Probability
0
p(0) = 0.03
1
p(1) = 0.20
2
p(2) = 0.50
3
p(3) = 0.20
4
p(4) = 0.05
5
p(5) = 0.02
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Expected Value of a Discrete


Random Variable
The mean or expected value of a discrete random
variable is:

X xp( x)
All x

Example 4.4: Expected Number of Radios Sold in a Week


x, Radios
p(x), Probability
x p(x)
0
p(0) = 0.03
0(0.03) = 0.00
1
p(1) = 0.20
1(0.20) = 0.20
2
p(2) = 0.50
2(0.50) = 1.00
3
p(3) = 0.20
3(0.20) = 0.60
4
p(4) = 0.05
4(0.05) = 0.20
5
p(5) = 0.02
5(0.02) = 0.10
1.00
2.10
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Variance and Standard Deviation


The variance of a discrete random variable is:

X2 ( x X ) 2 p ( x)
All x

The standard deviation is the square root of the variance.

X X2

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Example: Variance and Standard


Deviation

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Example 4.7:
of
x, Radios
0
0.1323
1
0.2420
2
0.0050
3
0.1620
4 Variance
0.1805
2

5
X 0.89
0.1682

Variance and Standard Deviation of the Number


Radios Sold in a Week
p(x), Probability
(x - X)2 p(x)
p(0) = 0.03
(0 2.1)2 (0.03) =
p(1) = 0.20

(1 2.1)2 (0.20) =

p(2) = 0.50

(2 2.1)2 (0.50) =

p(3) = 0.20

(3 2.1)2 (0.20) =

p(4) = 0.05 Standard deviation


(4 2.1)2 (0.05) =
p(5) = 0.02 X
1.00

2
0.89 (5
0.2.1)
9434
(0.02) =

4.3 The Binomial Distribution


The Binomial Experiment
1. Experiment consists of n identical trials

2. Each trial results in either success or failure


3. Probability of success, p, is constant from trial to trial
4. Trials are independent

If x = the total number of successes in n trials of a


binomial experiment, then x a binomial random
variable and the probability of x successes in n
trials is:
n!
p(x) =
p x q n -x
x!(n - x)!
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Example: Binomial Probabilities


Example 4.10
x =
number of patients who will experience nausea
following treatment with Phe-Mycin

n = 4 , p = 0.1 , q = 1 p = 1 - 0.1 = 0.9


Find the probability that 2 of the 4 patients treated will experience
nausea.

p(2) P(x=2)=

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4!
(0.1) 2 (0.9) 4-2 =6(0.1) 2 (0.9) 2 =0.0486
2!(4-2)!

Example: Binomial Distribution,


n = 4, p = 0.1

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Binomial Probability Table


p = 0.1
Table 4.7(a) for n = 4 trials
values of p (.05 to .50)

values of p (.95 to .50)


P(x = 2)=.0486
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Several Binomial Distributions

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Mean and Variance of a Binomial


Random Variable
If x is a binomial random variable with parameters n and p, then

Mean

Variance

Standard deviation

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X = np
x2 = npq , q 1 - p
x = x2

4.4 The Poisson Distribution


Consider the number of times an event occurs over an interval of time
or space, and assume that
1.
2.

The probability of occurrence is the same for any intervals of equal


length.
The occurrence in any interval is independent of an occurrence in
any non-overlapping interval.

If x = the number of occurrences in a specified interval, then x a


Poisson random variable and the probability of x occurrences in the
interval is:

e x
p(x) =
x!
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expected number of occurrences


e 2.71828..., the Naperian constant

Example: Poisson Probabilities


Example 4.13
x =
number of Cleveland air traffic control errors during one
week
= 0.4 (expected number of errors per week)
Find the probability that 3 errors will occur in a week.

e -0.4 (0.4) 3
p(3) P(x = 3) =
= .0072
3!
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Poisson Probability Table


Table 4.9

=0.4

, Mean number of Occurrences

x
0
1
2
3
4
5

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0.1
0.9048
0.0905
0.0045
0.0002
0.0000
0.0000

0.2
0.8187
0.1637
0.0164
0.0011
0.0001
0.0000

0.4
0.6703
0.2681
0.0536
0.0072
0.0007
0.0001

e -0.4 (0.4)3
p(3) P(x = 3) =
= 0.0072
3!

1.00
0.3679
0.3679
0.1839
0.0613
0.0153
0.0031

Example: Poisson Distribution,


= 0.4

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Mean and Variance of a Poisson


Random Variable
If x is a Poisson random variable with parameter , then

Mean

X =

Variance

x2 =

Standard Deviation

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x = x2

Several Poisson Distributions

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Discrete Random Variables


Summary
4.1
: Two Types of Random Variables
4.2 Discrete Probability Distributions
4.3 The Binomial Distribution
*4.4 The Poisson Distribution

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