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# Probability - Notes, Module 1, Lecture 1-6, Probability and Distributions JEE Notes | EduRev

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## JEE : Probability - Notes, Module 1, Lecture 1-6, Probability and Distributions JEE Notes | EduRev

``` Page 1

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   1

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURES 1-6
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method
1.2 AXIOMATIC APPROACH TO PROBABILITY AND
PROPERTIES OF PROBABILITY MEASURE
1.2.1 Inclusion-Exclusion Formula
1.2.1.1 Boole’s Inequality
1.2.1.2 Bonferroni’s Inequality
1.2.2 Equally Likely Probability Models
1.3 CONDITIONAL PROBABILITY AND
INDEPENDENCE OF EVENTS
1.3.1 Theorem of Total Probability
1.3.2 Bayes’ Theorem

1.4 CONTINUITY OF PROBABILITY MEASURES

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURE 1
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method

Page 2

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   1

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURES 1-6
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method
1.2 AXIOMATIC APPROACH TO PROBABILITY AND
PROPERTIES OF PROBABILITY MEASURE
1.2.1 Inclusion-Exclusion Formula
1.2.1.1 Boole’s Inequality
1.2.1.2 Bonferroni’s Inequality
1.2.2 Equally Likely Probability Models
1.3 CONDITIONAL PROBABILITY AND
INDEPENDENCE OF EVENTS
1.3.1 Theorem of Total Probability
1.3.2 Bayes’ Theorem

1.4 CONTINUITY OF PROBABILITY MEASURES

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURE 1
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   2

1.1 INTRODUCTION
In our daily life we come across many processes whose nature cannot be predicted in
advance. Such processes are referred to as random processes.  The only way to derive
information about random processes is to conduct experiments. Each such experiment
results in an outcome which cannot be predicted beforehand. In fact even if the
experiment is repeated under identical conditions, due to presence of factors which are
beyond control, outcomes of the experiment may vary from trial to trial. However we
may know in advance that each outcome of the experiment will result in one of the
several given possibilities. For example, in the cast of a die under a fixed environment the
outcome (number of dots on the upper face of the die) cannot be predicted in advance and
it varies from trial to trial. However we know in advance that the outcome has to be
among one of the numbers 1, 2,… , 6. Probability theory deals with the modeling and
study of random processes. The field of Statistics is closely related to probability theory
and it deals with drawing inferences from the data pertaining to random processes.
Definition 1.1
(i) A random experiment is an experiment in which:
(a) the set of all possible outcomes of the experiment is known in advance;
(b) the outcome of a particular performance (trial) of the experiment cannot be
(c) the experiment can be repeated under identical conditions.
(ii) The collection of all possible outcomes of a random experiment is called the
sample space. A sample space will usually be denoted by ?? . _
Example 1.1
(i) In the random experiment of casting a die one may take the sample space as
?? = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 , where ?? ? ?? indicates that the experiment results in ??   ?? =
1,…,6) dots on the upper face of die.
(ii) In the random experiment of simultaneously flipping a coin and casting a die one
may take the sample space as

?? = ?? ,?? × 1, 2,… , 6 =  ?? ,?? ): ?? ? ?? ,?? ,?? ? 1, 2,… , 6
where  ?? ,?? )  ?? ,?? )  indicates that the flip of the coin resulted in head (tail) on the
upper face and the cast of the die resulted in ??  ?? = 1, 2,… , 6) dots on the upper
face.
(iii) Consider an experiment where a coin is tossed repeatedly until a head is observed.
In this case the sample space may be taken as ?? = 1, 2,… (or
Page 3

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   1

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURES 1-6
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method
1.2 AXIOMATIC APPROACH TO PROBABILITY AND
PROPERTIES OF PROBABILITY MEASURE
1.2.1 Inclusion-Exclusion Formula
1.2.1.1 Boole’s Inequality
1.2.1.2 Bonferroni’s Inequality
1.2.2 Equally Likely Probability Models
1.3 CONDITIONAL PROBABILITY AND
INDEPENDENCE OF EVENTS
1.3.1 Theorem of Total Probability
1.3.2 Bayes’ Theorem

1.4 CONTINUITY OF PROBABILITY MEASURES

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURE 1
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   2

1.1 INTRODUCTION
In our daily life we come across many processes whose nature cannot be predicted in
advance. Such processes are referred to as random processes.  The only way to derive
information about random processes is to conduct experiments. Each such experiment
results in an outcome which cannot be predicted beforehand. In fact even if the
experiment is repeated under identical conditions, due to presence of factors which are
beyond control, outcomes of the experiment may vary from trial to trial. However we
may know in advance that each outcome of the experiment will result in one of the
several given possibilities. For example, in the cast of a die under a fixed environment the
outcome (number of dots on the upper face of the die) cannot be predicted in advance and
it varies from trial to trial. However we know in advance that the outcome has to be
among one of the numbers 1, 2,… , 6. Probability theory deals with the modeling and
study of random processes. The field of Statistics is closely related to probability theory
and it deals with drawing inferences from the data pertaining to random processes.
Definition 1.1
(i) A random experiment is an experiment in which:
(a) the set of all possible outcomes of the experiment is known in advance;
(b) the outcome of a particular performance (trial) of the experiment cannot be
(c) the experiment can be repeated under identical conditions.
(ii) The collection of all possible outcomes of a random experiment is called the
sample space. A sample space will usually be denoted by ?? . _
Example 1.1
(i) In the random experiment of casting a die one may take the sample space as
?? = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 , where ?? ? ?? indicates that the experiment results in ??   ?? =
1,…,6) dots on the upper face of die.
(ii) In the random experiment of simultaneously flipping a coin and casting a die one
may take the sample space as

?? = ?? ,?? × 1, 2,… , 6 =  ?? ,?? ): ?? ? ?? ,?? ,?? ? 1, 2,… , 6
where  ?? ,?? )  ?? ,?? )  indicates that the flip of the coin resulted in head (tail) on the
upper face and the cast of the die resulted in ??  ?? = 1, 2,… , 6) dots on the upper
face.
(iii) Consider an experiment where a coin is tossed repeatedly until a head is observed.
In this case the sample space may be taken as ?? = 1, 2,… (or

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   3

?? = {T, TH, TTH,… }), where ?? ? ?? (or TT? TH ? ?? with  ?? - 1) Ts and one H)
indicates that the experiment terminates on the ?? -th trial with first ?? - 1 trials
resulting in tails on the upper face and the ?? -th trial resulting in the head on the
upper face.
(iv)  In the random experiment of measuring lifetimes (in hours) of a particular brand
of batteries manufactured by a company one may take ?? = 0,70,000 , where we
have assumed that no battery lasts for more than 70,000 hours. _
Definition 1.2
(i) Let ?? be the sample space of a random experiment and let ?? ? ?? . If the outcome of
the random experiment is a member of the set ?? we say that the event ?? has occurred.
(ii)  Two events ?? 1
and ?? 2
are said to be mutually exclusive if they cannot occur
simultaneously, i.e., if ?? 1
n?? 2
= ?? , the empty set. _
In a random experiment some events may be more likely to occur than the others. For
example, in the cast of a fair die (a die that is not biased towards any particular
outcome), the occurrence of an odd number of dots on the upper face is more likely
than the occurrence of 2 or 4 dots on the upper face. Thus it may be desirable to
quantify the likelihoods of occurrences of various events. Probability of an event is a
numerical measure of chance with which that event occurs. To assign probabilities to
various events associated with a random experiment one may assign a real number
?? ?? ) ? 0,1  to each event ?? with the interpretation that there is a  100 ×?? ?? ) %
chance that the event ?? will occur and a  100 × 1-?? ?? )  % chance that the
event ?? will not occur. For example if the probability of an event is 0.25 it would
mean that there is a 25% chance that the event will occur and that there is a 75%
chance that the event will not occur. Note that, for any such assignment of
possibilities to be meaningful, one must have ?? ?? ) = 1. Now we will discuss two
methods of assigning probabilities.
1.1.1 Classical Method
This method of assigning probabilities is used for random experiments which result in
a finite number of equally likely outcomes. Let ?? = ?? 1
,… ,?? ??  be a finite sample
space with ??  ? N) possible outcomes; here N denotes the set of natural numbers. For
?? ? ?? , let  ??  denote the number of elements in ?? . An outcome ?? ? ?? is said to be
favorable to an event ?? if ?? ? ?? . In the classical method of assigning probabilities,
the probability of an event ?? is given by
?? ?? ) =
number of outcomes favorable to ?? total number of outcomes
=
??
??
=
??
?? .
Page 4

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   1

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURES 1-6
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method
1.2 AXIOMATIC APPROACH TO PROBABILITY AND
PROPERTIES OF PROBABILITY MEASURE
1.2.1 Inclusion-Exclusion Formula
1.2.1.1 Boole’s Inequality
1.2.1.2 Bonferroni’s Inequality
1.2.2 Equally Likely Probability Models
1.3 CONDITIONAL PROBABILITY AND
INDEPENDENCE OF EVENTS
1.3.1 Theorem of Total Probability
1.3.2 Bayes’ Theorem

1.4 CONTINUITY OF PROBABILITY MEASURES

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURE 1
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   2

1.1 INTRODUCTION
In our daily life we come across many processes whose nature cannot be predicted in
advance. Such processes are referred to as random processes.  The only way to derive
information about random processes is to conduct experiments. Each such experiment
results in an outcome which cannot be predicted beforehand. In fact even if the
experiment is repeated under identical conditions, due to presence of factors which are
beyond control, outcomes of the experiment may vary from trial to trial. However we
may know in advance that each outcome of the experiment will result in one of the
several given possibilities. For example, in the cast of a die under a fixed environment the
outcome (number of dots on the upper face of the die) cannot be predicted in advance and
it varies from trial to trial. However we know in advance that the outcome has to be
among one of the numbers 1, 2,… , 6. Probability theory deals with the modeling and
study of random processes. The field of Statistics is closely related to probability theory
and it deals with drawing inferences from the data pertaining to random processes.
Definition 1.1
(i) A random experiment is an experiment in which:
(a) the set of all possible outcomes of the experiment is known in advance;
(b) the outcome of a particular performance (trial) of the experiment cannot be
(c) the experiment can be repeated under identical conditions.
(ii) The collection of all possible outcomes of a random experiment is called the
sample space. A sample space will usually be denoted by ?? . _
Example 1.1
(i) In the random experiment of casting a die one may take the sample space as
?? = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 , where ?? ? ?? indicates that the experiment results in ??   ?? =
1,…,6) dots on the upper face of die.
(ii) In the random experiment of simultaneously flipping a coin and casting a die one
may take the sample space as

?? = ?? ,?? × 1, 2,… , 6 =  ?? ,?? ): ?? ? ?? ,?? ,?? ? 1, 2,… , 6
where  ?? ,?? )  ?? ,?? )  indicates that the flip of the coin resulted in head (tail) on the
upper face and the cast of the die resulted in ??  ?? = 1, 2,… , 6) dots on the upper
face.
(iii) Consider an experiment where a coin is tossed repeatedly until a head is observed.
In this case the sample space may be taken as ?? = 1, 2,… (or

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   3

?? = {T, TH, TTH,… }), where ?? ? ?? (or TT? TH ? ?? with  ?? - 1) Ts and one H)
indicates that the experiment terminates on the ?? -th trial with first ?? - 1 trials
resulting in tails on the upper face and the ?? -th trial resulting in the head on the
upper face.
(iv)  In the random experiment of measuring lifetimes (in hours) of a particular brand
of batteries manufactured by a company one may take ?? = 0,70,000 , where we
have assumed that no battery lasts for more than 70,000 hours. _
Definition 1.2
(i) Let ?? be the sample space of a random experiment and let ?? ? ?? . If the outcome of
the random experiment is a member of the set ?? we say that the event ?? has occurred.
(ii)  Two events ?? 1
and ?? 2
are said to be mutually exclusive if they cannot occur
simultaneously, i.e., if ?? 1
n?? 2
= ?? , the empty set. _
In a random experiment some events may be more likely to occur than the others. For
example, in the cast of a fair die (a die that is not biased towards any particular
outcome), the occurrence of an odd number of dots on the upper face is more likely
than the occurrence of 2 or 4 dots on the upper face. Thus it may be desirable to
quantify the likelihoods of occurrences of various events. Probability of an event is a
numerical measure of chance with which that event occurs. To assign probabilities to
various events associated with a random experiment one may assign a real number
?? ?? ) ? 0,1  to each event ?? with the interpretation that there is a  100 ×?? ?? ) %
chance that the event ?? will occur and a  100 × 1-?? ?? )  % chance that the
event ?? will not occur. For example if the probability of an event is 0.25 it would
mean that there is a 25% chance that the event will occur and that there is a 75%
chance that the event will not occur. Note that, for any such assignment of
possibilities to be meaningful, one must have ?? ?? ) = 1. Now we will discuss two
methods of assigning probabilities.
1.1.1 Classical Method
This method of assigning probabilities is used for random experiments which result in
a finite number of equally likely outcomes. Let ?? = ?? 1
,… ,?? ??  be a finite sample
space with ??  ? N) possible outcomes; here N denotes the set of natural numbers. For
?? ? ?? , let  ??  denote the number of elements in ?? . An outcome ?? ? ?? is said to be
favorable to an event ?? if ?? ? ?? . In the classical method of assigning probabilities,
the probability of an event ?? is given by
?? ?? ) =
number of outcomes favorable to ?? total number of outcomes
=
??
??
=
??
?? .

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   4

Note that probabilities assigned through classical method satisfy the following properties
of intuitive appeal:
(i) For any event ?? ,?? ?? ) = 0;
(ii) For mutually exclusive events ?? 1
,?? 2
,… ,?? ??  (i.e.,?? ?? n?? ?? = ?? , whenever ?? , ?? ?
1,… ,?? ,?? ? ?? )
??  ?? ?? ?? ?? =1
=
?? ?? ?? ?? =1

?? =
?? ??
?? ?? =1
?? =
?? ??
?? ?? ?? =1
= ?? ?? ?? );
?? ?? =1

(iii) ?? ?? ) =
??
??
= 1.
Example 1.2
Suppose that in a classroom we have 25 students (with registration numbers 1, 2,… , 25)
born in the same year having 365 days. Suppose that we want to find the probability of
the event ?? that they all are born on different days of the year. Here an outcome consists
of a sequence of 25 birthdays. Suppose that all such sequences are equally likely. Then
?? = 365
25
, E = 365 × 364 ×? × 341 =
365
?? 25
and  ?? ?? ) =
??
??
=
365
?? 25
365
25
· _
The classical method of assigning probabilities has a limited applicability as it can be
used only for random experiments which result in a finite number of equally likely
outcomes. _
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method

Suppose that we have independent repetitions of a random experiment (here independent
repetitions means that the outcome of one trial is not affected by the outcome of another
trial) under identical conditions. Let ?? ?? ?? ) denote the number of times an event ?? occurs
(also called the frequency of event ?? in ?? trials) in the first ?? trials and let ?? ?? ?? ) =
?? ?? ?? )/?? denote the corresponding relative frequency. Using advanced probabilistic
arguments (e.g., using Weak Law of Large Numbers to be discussed in Module 7) it can
be shown that, under mild conditions, the relative frequencies stabilize (in certain sense)
as ?? gets large (i.e., for any event ?? , lim
?? ? 8
r
N
E) exists in certain sense). In the relative
frequency method of assigning probabilities the probability of an event ?? is given by

?? ?? ) = lim
?? ? 8
?? ?? ?? ) = lim
?? ? 8
?? ?? (?? )
?? ·
Page 5

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   1

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURES 1-6
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method
1.2 AXIOMATIC APPROACH TO PROBABILITY AND
PROPERTIES OF PROBABILITY MEASURE
1.2.1 Inclusion-Exclusion Formula
1.2.1.1 Boole’s Inequality
1.2.1.2 Bonferroni’s Inequality
1.2.2 Equally Likely Probability Models
1.3 CONDITIONAL PROBABILITY AND
INDEPENDENCE OF EVENTS
1.3.1 Theorem of Total Probability
1.3.2 Bayes’ Theorem

1.4 CONTINUITY OF PROBABILITY MEASURES

MODULE 1
PROBABILITY
LECTURE 1
Topics
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.1.1 Classical Method
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   2

1.1 INTRODUCTION
In our daily life we come across many processes whose nature cannot be predicted in
advance. Such processes are referred to as random processes.  The only way to derive
information about random processes is to conduct experiments. Each such experiment
results in an outcome which cannot be predicted beforehand. In fact even if the
experiment is repeated under identical conditions, due to presence of factors which are
beyond control, outcomes of the experiment may vary from trial to trial. However we
may know in advance that each outcome of the experiment will result in one of the
several given possibilities. For example, in the cast of a die under a fixed environment the
outcome (number of dots on the upper face of the die) cannot be predicted in advance and
it varies from trial to trial. However we know in advance that the outcome has to be
among one of the numbers 1, 2,… , 6. Probability theory deals with the modeling and
study of random processes. The field of Statistics is closely related to probability theory
and it deals with drawing inferences from the data pertaining to random processes.
Definition 1.1
(i) A random experiment is an experiment in which:
(a) the set of all possible outcomes of the experiment is known in advance;
(b) the outcome of a particular performance (trial) of the experiment cannot be
(c) the experiment can be repeated under identical conditions.
(ii) The collection of all possible outcomes of a random experiment is called the
sample space. A sample space will usually be denoted by ?? . _
Example 1.1
(i) In the random experiment of casting a die one may take the sample space as
?? = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 , where ?? ? ?? indicates that the experiment results in ??   ?? =
1,…,6) dots on the upper face of die.
(ii) In the random experiment of simultaneously flipping a coin and casting a die one
may take the sample space as

?? = ?? ,?? × 1, 2,… , 6 =  ?? ,?? ): ?? ? ?? ,?? ,?? ? 1, 2,… , 6
where  ?? ,?? )  ?? ,?? )  indicates that the flip of the coin resulted in head (tail) on the
upper face and the cast of the die resulted in ??  ?? = 1, 2,… , 6) dots on the upper
face.
(iii) Consider an experiment where a coin is tossed repeatedly until a head is observed.
In this case the sample space may be taken as ?? = 1, 2,… (or

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   3

?? = {T, TH, TTH,… }), where ?? ? ?? (or TT? TH ? ?? with  ?? - 1) Ts and one H)
indicates that the experiment terminates on the ?? -th trial with first ?? - 1 trials
resulting in tails on the upper face and the ?? -th trial resulting in the head on the
upper face.
(iv)  In the random experiment of measuring lifetimes (in hours) of a particular brand
of batteries manufactured by a company one may take ?? = 0,70,000 , where we
have assumed that no battery lasts for more than 70,000 hours. _
Definition 1.2
(i) Let ?? be the sample space of a random experiment and let ?? ? ?? . If the outcome of
the random experiment is a member of the set ?? we say that the event ?? has occurred.
(ii)  Two events ?? 1
and ?? 2
are said to be mutually exclusive if they cannot occur
simultaneously, i.e., if ?? 1
n?? 2
= ?? , the empty set. _
In a random experiment some events may be more likely to occur than the others. For
example, in the cast of a fair die (a die that is not biased towards any particular
outcome), the occurrence of an odd number of dots on the upper face is more likely
than the occurrence of 2 or 4 dots on the upper face. Thus it may be desirable to
quantify the likelihoods of occurrences of various events. Probability of an event is a
numerical measure of chance with which that event occurs. To assign probabilities to
various events associated with a random experiment one may assign a real number
?? ?? ) ? 0,1  to each event ?? with the interpretation that there is a  100 ×?? ?? ) %
chance that the event ?? will occur and a  100 × 1-?? ?? )  % chance that the
event ?? will not occur. For example if the probability of an event is 0.25 it would
mean that there is a 25% chance that the event will occur and that there is a 75%
chance that the event will not occur. Note that, for any such assignment of
possibilities to be meaningful, one must have ?? ?? ) = 1. Now we will discuss two
methods of assigning probabilities.
1.1.1 Classical Method
This method of assigning probabilities is used for random experiments which result in
a finite number of equally likely outcomes. Let ?? = ?? 1
,… ,?? ??  be a finite sample
space with ??  ? N) possible outcomes; here N denotes the set of natural numbers. For
?? ? ?? , let  ??  denote the number of elements in ?? . An outcome ?? ? ?? is said to be
favorable to an event ?? if ?? ? ?? . In the classical method of assigning probabilities,
the probability of an event ?? is given by
?? ?? ) =
number of outcomes favorable to ?? total number of outcomes
=
??
??
=
??
?? .

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   4

Note that probabilities assigned through classical method satisfy the following properties
of intuitive appeal:
(i) For any event ?? ,?? ?? ) = 0;
(ii) For mutually exclusive events ?? 1
,?? 2
,… ,?? ??  (i.e.,?? ?? n?? ?? = ?? , whenever ?? , ?? ?
1,… ,?? ,?? ? ?? )
??  ?? ?? ?? ?? =1
=
?? ?? ?? ?? =1

?? =
?? ??
?? ?? =1
?? =
?? ??
?? ?? ?? =1
= ?? ?? ?? );
?? ?? =1

(iii) ?? ?? ) =
??
??
= 1.
Example 1.2
Suppose that in a classroom we have 25 students (with registration numbers 1, 2,… , 25)
born in the same year having 365 days. Suppose that we want to find the probability of
the event ?? that they all are born on different days of the year. Here an outcome consists
of a sequence of 25 birthdays. Suppose that all such sequences are equally likely. Then
?? = 365
25
, E = 365 × 364 ×? × 341 =
365
?? 25
and  ?? ?? ) =
??
??
=
365
?? 25
365
25
· _
The classical method of assigning probabilities has a limited applicability as it can be
used only for random experiments which result in a finite number of equally likely
outcomes. _
1.1.2 Relative Frequency Method

Suppose that we have independent repetitions of a random experiment (here independent
repetitions means that the outcome of one trial is not affected by the outcome of another
trial) under identical conditions. Let ?? ?? ?? ) denote the number of times an event ?? occurs
(also called the frequency of event ?? in ?? trials) in the first ?? trials and let ?? ?? ?? ) =
?? ?? ?? )/?? denote the corresponding relative frequency. Using advanced probabilistic
arguments (e.g., using Weak Law of Large Numbers to be discussed in Module 7) it can
be shown that, under mild conditions, the relative frequencies stabilize (in certain sense)
as ?? gets large (i.e., for any event ?? , lim
?? ? 8
r
N
E) exists in certain sense). In the relative
frequency method of assigning probabilities the probability of an event ?? is given by

?? ?? ) = lim
?? ? 8
?? ?? ?? ) = lim
?? ? 8
?? ?? (?? )
?? ·

NPTEL- Probability and Distributions

Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                   5

Figure 1.1. Plot of relative frequencies (?? ?? ?? )) of number of heads against number of
trials (N) in the random experiment of tossing a fair coin (with probability of head in each
trial as 0.5).
In practice, to assign probability to an event ?? , the experiment is repeated a large (but
fixed) number of times (say ?? times) and the approximation ?? ?? ) ˜ ?? ?? ?? ) is used for
assigning probability to event?? . Note that probabilities assigned through relative
frequency method also satisfy the following properties of intuitive appeal:
(i) for any event ?? ,?? ?? ) = 0;
(ii) for mutually exclusive events ?? 1
,?? 2
,… ,?? ??
??  ?? ?? ?? ?? =1
= ?? ?? ?? )
?? ?? =1
;
(iii) ?? ?? ) = 1.
Although the relative frequency method seems to have more applicability than the
classical method it too has limitations. A major problem with the relative frequency
method is that it is imprecise as it is based on an approximation  ?? ?? ) ˜ ?? ?? ?? ) .
```
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