A petshop owner had a parrot with a sign on its cage that said "Parrot repeats everything it hears". Davey bought the parrot and for two weeks he spoke to it and it didn't say a word. He returned the parrot but the shopkeeper said he never lied about the parrot.
How can this be?
What is the least number of people that need to be in a room such that there is greater than a 50% chance that at least two of the people have the same birthday?
Only 23 people need to be in the room.
Our first observation in solving this problem is the following:
(the probability that at least 2 people have the same birthday + the probability that nobody has the same birthday) = 1.0
What this means is that there is a 100% chance that EITHER everybody in the room has a different birthday, OR at least two people in the room have the same birthday (and these probabilities don't add up to more than 1.0 because they cover mutually exclusive situations).
With some simple re-arranging of the formula, we get:
the probability that at least 2 people have the same birthday = (1.0 - the probability that nobody has the same birthday)
So now if we can find the probability that nobody in the room has the same birthday, we just subtract this value from 1.0 and we'll have our answer.
The probability that nobody in the room has the same birthday is fairly straightforward to calculate. We can think of this as a "selection without replacement" problem, where each person "selects" a birthday at random, and we then have to figure out the probability that no two people select the same birthday. The first selection has a 365/365 chance of being different than the other birthdays (since none have been selected yet). The next selection has a 364/365 chance of being different than the 1 birthday that has been selected so far. The next selection has a 363/365 chance of being different than the 2 birthdays that have been selected so far.
These probabilities are multiplied together since each is conditional on the previous. So for example, the probability that nobody in a room of 3 people have the same birthday is (365/365 * 364/365 * 363/365) =~ 0.9918
More generally, if there are n people in a room, then the probability that nobody has the same birthday is (365/365 * 364/365 * ... * (365-n+2)/365 * (365-n+1)/365)
We can plug in values for n. For n=22, we get that the probability that nobody has the same birthday is 0.524, and thus the probabilty that at least two people have the same birthday is (1.0 - 0.524) = 0.476 = 47.6%.
Then for n=23, we get that the probability that nobody has the same birthday is 0.493, and thus the probabilty that at least two people have the same birthday is 1.0 - 0.493) = 0.507 = 50.7%. Thus, once we get to 23 people we have reached the 50% threshold.
Mr. Black, Mr. Gray, and Mr. White are fighting in a truel. They each get a gun and take turns shooting at each other until only one person is left. Mr. Black, who hits his shot 1/3 of the time, gets to shoot first. Mr. Gray, who hits his shot 2/3 of the time, gets to shoot next, assuming he is still alive. Mr. White, who hits his shot all the time, shoots next, assuming he is also alive. The cycle repeats. All three competitors know one another's shooting odds. If you are Mr. Black, where should you shoot first for the highest chance of survival?
He should shoot at the ground. If Mr. Black shoots the ground, it is Mr. Gray's turn. Mr. Gray would rather shoot at Mr. White than Mr. Black, because he is better. If Mr. Gray kills Mr. White, it is just Mr. Black and Mr. Gray left, giving Mr. Black a fair chance of winning. If Mr. Gray does not kill Mr. White, it is Mr. White's turn. He would rather shoot at Mr. Gray and will definitely kill him. Even though it is now Mr. Black against Mr. White, Mr. Black has a better chance of winning than before.
Sometimes I am loved, usually by the young. Other times I am dreaded, mostly by the old ones. I am hard to remember, also hard to forget. And yet if you do, You'll make someone upset. I occur every day everyone has to face me. Even if you don't want it to happen; embrace me. What am I?
If a green man lives in a green house, a purple man lives in a purple house, a blue man lives in a blue house, a yellow man lives in a yellow house, a black man lives in a black house. Who lives in a White house?
It can't be seen, can't be felt,
can't be heard and can't be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
and empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
ends life and kills laughter.
What is it?