02 Mar Why Do We Study Probability?
Life is unpredictable, this is something we are all well aware of. From guessing whether or not a given day will be sunny or rainy to predicting the likelihood of when a deadly disease may come knocking on our front door.
Such uncertainties are bound to make an anxious lot out of the best of us.
Fortunately, this is where the study of probability comes into play. Essentially, probability is a branch of mathematics which predicts through calculations the various outcomes of a given event. To make it sound cool, it gives you the ability to predict how future events may turn out.
Nonetheless, secondary school students may find it inconceivable to grasp the need to study probability and the use of it in their future careers.
Your child may wonder what good is it to solve the probability of a coin landing on its head or tail side or the likelihood of getting an even number when a die is rolled.
This may sound mundane to a secondary school student when solving it on a piece of question paper in a classroom.
However, those who are able to master probability and decide to take it up a notch by pursuing it in their tertiary studies and also in their future careers will be exposed to the subjects’ limitless potential and boundless applications.
Uses of Probability in Society
Researching a Disease
Take for example the recent onset of Coronavirus (2019-nCov) which has gripped the globe with fear. Its initial origin and spread were shrouded with uncertainty as the Chinese government and researchers around the world scrambled to pinpoint how and where it first started, how it is spreading and the potential risk and reach of this outbreak.
Now, with a keen awareness and understanding of this disease scientists and researchers are able to compile data and compare it with past events to analyze disease spread and build a current model in order predict the character and likely outcome of the disease.
With more updated information about the disease in hand, the general public will be more informed and prepared to keep themselves and their family members safe from the disease.
As daunting as it may be to venture into space with all the unknown factors that an astronaut or a space probe may come across, probability is one of the many branches of mathematics that scientists employ to come up with probabilities and predictions about the planets within our solar system and the ones beyond.
Probability is also used to come up with risk assessments to understand the various risks involved in carrying out a space exploration journey.
From an astronaut’s journey from earth to the international space station and eventual descent back to earth to the sustainability of space rovers and probes deployed on Mars and other planets, probability plays a part in ensuring the best possible outcome for these scenarios.
It is not much fun to tangle with a hurricane or tornado. With adequate data provided by satellites and other sophisticated tools meteorologists are able to make an informed prediction of the seasonal probability of hurricanes and also track the pathway of an ongoing hurricane and its intensity.
With these advances in hurricane forecasting, people who are residing in the pathway of an incoming hurricane can be given a timely warning and be evacuated before the hurricane makes landfall.
This ensures the preservation of life for the people in hurricane-prone areas.
For a more down to earth example of the application of probability in an industry. Be it life, health, property or automobile insurance, companies use what is known as the probability theory to evaluate applications and design their policies.
While insurers dealing with automobiles will use probability to draw up risk assessments in order to determine premium rates. For automobile, some factors that are taken into account would be the location at which the car may be driven, the age of the driver, the driver’s driving experience and record, the type of vehicle and etcetera. Though not all insurance companies have the same criteria, all these factors affect the probability of an automobile accident.
These are merely are a few examples of the application of probability in industries. Mastering probability will open up a plethora of opportunities for your child’s future career.
Some other jobs that your child may consider if he or she has a keen interest in probability would be statistician, market research analyst, financial analyst, and mathematician.
Exposure to Probability in Secondary 4 Mathematics
For students in N(A) or O-level mathematics, they will expect to learn about probability in sec 4.
Students will learn about calculating probability as a measure of chance (the likelihood of rain on a given day) and also calculating the probability of single events (a coin landing on heads or tails). They expand on their knowledge on probability by learning to calculate the probability of simple combined events with the use of possibility diagrams and tree diagrams.
An example would be finding the probability of drawing chocolate sweets with yellow wrappers in a box filled with chocolates of assorted colours.
Students will also learn the addition and multiplication of probabilities involving mutually exclusive events which are things that cannot happen simultaneously (heads and tails) and independent events which are things that can happen simultaneously but do not affect one another (tossing a coin and rolling a die).
At Einstein Education Hub, we believe in inspiring your child to see probability as more than a problem to be solved on paper but rather a valuable field of knowledge that can help to solve complex real-world problems or even mysteries that we have yet to comprehend.
For those that require a supportive push to understand the basics of secondary level probability, feel free to check out our Sec 3 E Math Tuition and Sec 4 E Math Tuition classes which are tailored to provide students with a firm foundation in mathematics in order to master the numerous areas of mathematics.
Find out more about our upper secondary tuition classes today.