Browse Definitions:
Definition

probability

Probability is a branch of mathematics that deals with calculating the likelihood of a given event's occurrence, which is expressed as a number between 1 and 0. An event with a probability of 1 can be considered a certainty: for example, the probability of a coin toss resulting in either "heads" or "tails" is 1, because there are no other options, assuming the coin lands flat. An event with a probability of .5 can be considered to have equal odds of occurring or not occurring: for example, the probability of a coin toss resulting in "heads" is .5, because the toss is equally as likely to result in "tails." An event with a probability of 0 can be considered an impossibility: for example, the probability that the coin will land (flat) without either side facing up is 0, because either "heads" or "tails" must be facing up. A little paradoxical, probability theory applies precise calculations to quantify uncertain measures of random events.

In its simplest form, probability can be expressed mathematically as: the number of occurrences of a targeted event divided by the number of occurrences plus the number of failures of occurrences (this adds up to the total of possible outcomes):

p(a) = p(a)/[p(a) + p(b)]

Calculating probabilities in a situation like a coin toss is straightforward, because the outcomes are mutually exclusive: either one event or the other must occur. Each coin toss is an independent event; the outcome of one trial has no effect on subsequent ones. No matter how many consecutive times one side lands facing up, the probability that it will do so at the next toss is always .5 (50-50). The mistaken idea that a number of consecutive results (six "heads" for example) makes it more likely that the next toss will result in a "tails" is known as the gambler's fallacy , one that has led to the downfall of many a bettor.

Probability theory had its start in the 17th century, when two French mathematicians, Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat carried on a correspondence discussing mathematical problems dealing with games of chance. Contemporary applications of probability theory run the gamut of human inquiry, and include aspects of computer programming, astrophysics, music, weather prediction, and medicine.

This was last updated in December 2005

Continue Reading About probability

Join the conversation

4 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

i can't understand .i need more detial
Cancel
Complicated Text
Cancel
it is very good for us
Cancel

p(a) = p(a)/[p(a) + p(b)] makes no sense.

Should this be p(a) = N(a)/[N(a) + N(b)], where N(.) is the number of occurrences of the events 'a' and 'b'? 

Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • copyright

    Copyright is a legal term describing ownership of control of the rights to the use and distribution of certain works of creative ...

  • keylogger (keystroke logger or system monitor)

    A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger or system monitor, is a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and ...

  • password

    A password is an unspaced sequence of characters used to determine that a computer user requesting access to a computer system is...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

SearchStorage

  • RAID (redundant array of independent disks)

    RAID (redundant array of independent disks) is a way of storing the same data in different places on multiple hard disks to ...

  • data migration

    Data migration is the process of transferring data between data storage systems, data formats or computer systems.

  • compact disc (CD)

    A compact disc is a portable storage medium that can be used for recording, storing and playing back audio, video and other data ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • NVMe (non-volatile memory express)

    NVMe (non-volatile memory express) is a host controller interface and storage protocol to enable a solid-state drive to use the ...

  • SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID)

    SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID) is a methodology commonly used to protect data by distributing redundant data blocks across ...

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close