Maddenation

51/49

About the ratio of real-world coin toss results, David Aldous, a statistician at the University of California, Berkeley applies, “This is a good lesson that even in simple things that people take for granted, there may be unexpected subtleties.”

DanExplanations03/02/04 1 comments

Comments

Dad • 03/02/04 10:59 PM:

First of all, 51/49 ain’t bad, except in a presidential election. Second, most people don’t check what face of the coin is up before they flip, and anyway, the other guy calls it. Third, why don’t sportscasters announce how teams are doing in the coin flip? “The Packers have been about 55% on the coin flips this year, and this has given them a significant advantage relative to last year when they were only 44%.”

Is there a home coin flip advantage?

Anyway, we now have the technology to replace the coin flip with an electronic random number generator. I just tried my EXCEL RAND function to see how it does for thousands of tries. (This is easy to do by cutting and pasting the function into multiple cells.) For 51 sets of 1000 “flips” the average number of heads was right at 500 (well, 499.69), with a standard deviation of about 15. This is better than using a coin. But I don’t think the sports world is ready to replace the coin toss just yet.

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