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9.2 DISCRETE RANDOM

VARIABLES

(a) define random variable

(b) identify discrete and continuous

variables

(c) Understand probability

distribution functions

~is a function that assigns a numerical

value to each simple event in a sample

space.

~ RV will be denoted by uppercase letters X

or Y and its values are denoted by lowercase

letters or

x

y

A random variable (RV)

Example :

If two coins are tossed and a letter

X is used to represent the number of

heads, then = 0, 1, 2.

Example :

If two dice are rolled and a letter

Y is used to represent the sum of

the number shown on dice,

then, = 2, 3, 4,12

x

y

Example:

the number of cars sold during a given

month

the number of houses in a certain block

A Discrete Random Variable

~ is a function with countable or exact values

A random variable can be discrete or

continuous

Example:

the height of a person

the time taken to complete an exam

A Continuous Random Variable

~ is a function with values contained in one or

more intervals

( )

k

i

i 1

P X x 1

=

= =

( )

i

0 P X= x 1 s s

Probability Distribution of a Discrete

Random Variable

~ list all the possible values that the random

variables can assume and their corresponding

probabilities.

and

The probability distribution can be

presented in the form of

i) table

ii) function

iii) graph

Example 1:

If two fair coins are tossed then the

possible outcomes are:

{HH,HT,TH,TT}

Let X represents the number of tail

obtained.

So,

= 0,1,2 x

(i) table

P(X = x)

2 1 0 x

1

4

1

2

1

4

(ii) function

1

x 0, 2

4

P(X x)

1

x 1

2

= =

x

P(X=x)

(iii) graph

1

_

2

1

_

4

Example 2:

A fair die is rolled. If X represent the number

on die, show that X is a discrete random

variable. Find P(X < 3) and .

P(X=x)

6 5 4 3 2 1

Solution:

The probability distribution of X

( )

6

1

i

i

P X x

=

= =

1

( )

P 1< X 5 s

X = the number on die

x

( )

P X < 3

=

P(X=x)

6 5 4 3 2 1

x

( )

P 1< X 5

s

2

=

3

P(X=x)

6 5 4 3 2 1

x

Example 3

Random variable X has the following

probability distribution

( ) ( )

kx x 1, 2, 3, 4

P X x k 10 x x 5, 6, 7

0 otherwise

=

= = =

where is a constant k

a) Determine the value of k

b) Construct a probability distribution table

( )

c) Find (i) P X>2

( )

(ii) P X= 4 or X = 6

( )

iii)P X-2 1 <

solution

22 1 k =

1

22

k =

(a)

( ) ( )

kx x 1, 2, 3, 4

P X x k 10 x x 5, 6, 7

0 otherwise

=

= = =

7 6 5 4 3 2 1

( )

P X x =

3

22

4

22

5

22

1

22

3

22

2

22

4

22

( ) ( )

kx x 1, 2, 3, 4

P X x k 10 x x 5, 6, 7

0 otherwise

=

= = =

x

1

22

k =

( )

(ii) P X = 4 or X = 6 =

( )

(i) P X > 2 =

(c)

1 2

1

22 22

=

4 4

22 22

+

19

22

=

7 6 5 4 3 2 1

3

22

4

22

5

22

1

22

3

22

2

22

4

22

( )

P X x =

x

( )

(iii) P X-2 1

< =

( )

= P 1 < X < 3

2

=

22

1

11

=

CONCLUSION

X is known as a discrete random

variable if:

( )

P X = 0

i

x >

( )

1

1

k

i

i

P X x

=

= =

( )

0 P X=x 1 s s

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