Re: coin flipping

Ross A. Finlayson (
Thu, 28 Oct 1999 19:37:14 -0400

Rob Harris wrote:

> > I assert that it is completely impossible for you to flip a coin 1
> million
> > times and have it turn up heads every time. When I say completely
> > impossible, I mean that it will never EVER happen, no matter how many
> > times you try.

Not true. There is a chance, no matter how miniscule, that a million flipped coins will all be heads.

> And I assert that probability exists only as a fix for uncertainty in
> systems one wishes to predict that have too many variables of too high a
> complexity to track. Probability will become obsolete with the arrival of
> the necessary technology. Or will it? What do you think?

Well, there is a question whether or not there is any actual randomness, or if everything is predetermined. This is moot in considering the million coins, they could randomly arrive at a million successive heads or do so in a predetermined manner.

As we know from statistical analysis, the chance of this truth value goes to zero as the number of coins goes to infinity, but is never zero.

I like to think of probability, generally, as a huge, near infinite set of interrelated probability chains. For example, while walking, putting one foot forward generally then leads to the other foot being put forward. All things are influenced by their pre-state and relative state.

As technology and the science of statistics (in terms of prediction) advance, there is less uncertainty in many or most things. That is not to say that those who know will be rightly forthcoming with this information, for example, in any game of chance or the stock market any marginal knowledge of the odds leads to a competitive advantage.

Probability will always carry the same weight, although the ability to determine currency and extrapolate behaviors predictably is constantly advancing in many fields.

Ross Finlayson