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?
A man is sitting in a pub feeling rather poor. He sees the man next to him pull a wad of £50 notes out of his wallet.
He turns to the rich man and says to him, 'I have an amazing talent; I know almost every song that has ever existed.'
The rich man laughs.
The poor man says, 'I am willing to bet you all the money you have in your wallet that I can sing a genuine song with a lady's name of your choice in it.'
The rich man laughs again and says, 'OK, how about my daughter's name, Joanna Armstrong-Miller?'
The rich man goes home poor. The poor man goes home rich.
What song did he sing?
Bill and Stacie are delighted when their new baby, Patrick, is born on February 29th, 2008. They think it's good luck to for him to be born on the special day of the leap year. But then they start thinking about when to celebrate his next birthday. After some thought, they decide that they want to celebrate Patrick's next birthday (when he turns 1) exactly 365 days after he was born, just like most people do.
What will be the date of this birthday?
The date of the birthday will be February 28th, 2009.
At first it might seem like his birthday should be March 1st, 2009, since February 29th is the day after February 28th in the leap year, while March 1st is the day after February 28th in non-leap years. But this is the wrong way to think about it.
The right way to think about it is that 365 days after the day before March 1st is always February 28th, regardless of whether it's a leap year or not. So Patrick's birthday will be February 28th.
Peter celebrated his birthday on one day, and two days later his older twin brother, Paul, celebrated his birthday. How could this be?
When the mother of the twins went into labor, she was travelling by boat. The older twin, Paul, was born first, barely on March 1st. The boat then crossed a time zone, and the younger twin was born on February the 28th. In a leap year the younger twin celebrates his birthday two days before his older brother.
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.