Coin flip odds?
January 3, 2008 8:47 AM Subscribe
Statistics question: How can I calculate the odds of flipping a coin to get x consecutive heads anywhere within a data set of y flips. (more inside)
posted by rocket88 to Science & Nature (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Here's the background: I was attempting to explain the phenomenon that unlikely outcomes become more likely to occur as the number of total events increases, to someone who attributes those unlikely outcomes to evidence of "unseen forces".
So my response was along the lines that if you flip a coin ten times, the odds of flipping ten heads are very slim (1023 to 1 against, I believe), but at some larger number of flips (N), the odds of having ten consecutive heads are even (1:1), and at some yet larger number of flips (M) the odds of not having ten consecutive heads is 1023 to 1 against.
1. How do I calculate N and M?, and
2. Is there a name for this phenomenon? (It's similar to the law of large numbers, but not quite)