Probability, Coincidences and Birthdays

Thursday 31 January 2013

On our past two family holidays, my family and I have experienced very unlikely (or at least what we felt to be very unlikely) coincidences - namely, having chance meetings with people we know well while travelling far from home.  One of these "unlikely" coincidences occurred when we were visiting Washington DC last spring.  On our first day in the city we decided to go to the popular Air & Space Museum.  There were literally thousands of people visiting the museum the day we were there.  While walking around the exhibits we literally ran into a teaching colleague of ours - someone who has taught all three of our children.  All involved were astounded by this event.  Three days previously we were teaching in the same school and then bump into each other in a very crowded museum thousands of miles and on the other side of an ocean.  We took the required group photo and after returning to school the next week, we shared the story with many colleagues - who all expressed the same keen sense of our chance meeting being a very unlikely coincidence.  But is it really that unlikely?

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Tags: probability, birthday problem, coincidences, complement

Snow Day
23 Jan 2013


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