Ghosh, Jonaki
(2012)
The birthday paradox.
At Right Angles, 1 (1).
pp. 3942.
Abstract
One of the fundamental concepts in statistics is that of
probability. It forms an integral part of most mathematics
curricula at high school level. The topic of probability can
be enlivened using many interesting problems. The related
experiments are, however, time consuming and impractical
to conduct in the classroom. Simulation can be an effective
tool for modeling such experiments. It enables students to
use random number generators to generate and explore
data meaningfully and, as a result, grasp important proba
bility concepts. This section discusses a well known problem
known as the Birthday Problem or the Birthday Paradox
which highlights an interesting paradox in probability and
lends itself to investigation. Its exploration using a spread
sheet such as MS Excel can lead to an engaging classroom
activity. It highlights the fact that spreadsheets can enable
students to visualize, explore and discover important con
cepts without necessarily getting into the rigor of math
ematical derivations.
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