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Dice Rolling Probability: Statistics and Dice

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Dice rolling probability: Statistics and Dice Overview

It’s very common to find questions about dice rolling in probability and statistics. You might be asked the probability of rolling a five and a seven, or rolling a twelve, or rolling a double-six. While you *could* technically use a formula or two (like a combinations formula), you really have to understand each number that goes into the formula. And that’s not always simple. By far the easiest (visual) way to solve these types of problems (ones that involve finding the probability of rolling a certain combination or set of numbers) is by writing out a sample space.

Dice Rolling Probability: Sample Space

A sample space is just the set of all possible probabilities. In simple terms, you have to figure out every possibility for what might happen. With dice rolling, your sample space is going to be every possible dice roll.
For example, in order to know what the odds are of rolling a 4 or a 7 from a set of two dice, we would first need to find out what all the possible combinations. We could roll a double one [1][1], or a one and a two [1][2]. In fact, there are 36 possible combinations.

Dice Rolling Probability: Steps

Step 1: Write out your sample space. For two dice,  the 36 different possibilities are:

[1][1], [1][2], [1][3], [1][4], [1][5], [1][6],
[2][1], [2][2], [2][3], [2][4], [2][5], [2][6],
[3][1], [3][2], [3][3], [3][4], [3][5], [3][6],
[4][1], [4][2], [4][3], [4][4], [4][5], [4][6],
[5][1], [5][2], [5][3], [5][4], [5][5], [5][6],
[6][1], [6][2], [6][3], [6][4], [6][5], [6][6]

Step 2: Look at your sample space and find how many add up to 4 or 7 (because we’re looking for the probability of rolling one of those numbers).

[1][1], [1][2], [1][3], [1][4], [1][5], [1][6],
[2][1], [2][2], [2][3], [2][4],[2][5], [2][6],
[3][1], [3][2], [3][3], [3][4], [3][5], [3][6],
[4][1], [4][2], [4][3], [4][4], [4][5], [4][6],
[5][1], [5][2], [5][3], [5][4], [5][5], [5][6],
[6][2], [6][3], [6][4], [6][5], [6][6].

There are 9 possible combinations.

Step 3: Take the answer from step 2, and divide it by the size of your total sample space from step 1:

9 / 36 = .25

You’re done!

Dice Rolling Probability: Statistics and Dice was last modified: July 17th, 2015 by Stephanie

7 thoughts on “Dice Rolling Probability: Statistics and Dice

  1. Karin Martindale

    I saw in the textbook the page where sample space was explained in Chapter 2, but it only listed it for a problem that had 6 outcomes. It was nice to see this post with a possible 36 outcomes because it showed me how to complete a more complex scenario without being confusing.

  2. Angie Widdows

    This post was very helpful. I never thought of actually writing out the problem with the actual dice rolls. It helos you to visualize the problem and then actually solve it in a way that you can understand.

  3. Rebecca Gamble

    These types of problems are all in chapter 3 and 2. The brake down of these steps make you think “how could I’ve gotten that wrong?” thank you

  4. Kalynn Grabau

    I definately needed this in order to understand the homework!! Thanks so much, now it’s making sense.

  5. Catherine Flanagan

    This blog helped me a lot to understand probabilities of dice rolling. I agree with Rebecca…how could I have gotten the question wrong?

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