Why It Matters: Probability

Why learn how to compute probability?

According to the news, the lottery jackpot is climbing by the hour.  Long lines of dreamers are forming wherever lottery tickets are sold.  While you don’t usually buy lottery tickets, it is getting tempting.  Just imagine what you could do with $100 million dollars.  Perhaps you could retire early or never even go to work.  Maybe buy a rare fancy car.  All you need to do is pick the correct numbers, and the jackpot is all yours!

Image of a red Ferrari 250 GTO on a display platform.

It sounds easy enough; just six simple numbers.  But how likely are you to win?  And could you increase the likelihood of winning by purchasing more lottery tickets?

Image shows numbered balls as would be used to select the winning numbers of a lottery.

To answer these questions, you need to know about permutations and combinations.  So learn about them as you complete this module, and then we’ll return to the lottery at the end.  Then you’ll be able to decide whether you want to stand in line to purchase a ticket.


This chapter contains material taken from Math in Society (on OpenTextBookStore) by David Lippman, and is used under a CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States (CC BY-SA 3.0 US) license.

This chapter contains material taken from of Math for the Liberal Arts (on Lumen Learning) by Lumen Learning, and is used under a CC BY: Attribution license.


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Why It Matters: Probability by Gail Poitrast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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