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Guide and features
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
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This article explores the process of making and testing hypotheses.
What's Your Mean?
Why do this problem?
gives an opportunity to practise numerical integration in the context of probability distributions. It will really allow students to get into the meaning of probability density functions in terms of areas and probabilities. Instead of simply requiring an explicit calculation, students will need to engage with decisions concerning limits and integration.
The first stage of the problem is to realize that a numerical integration is needed to calculate the mean. Once the class has realised that this is the case, they will need to start to perform the integrations. This will require various choices as there are many ways in which this can be done. To facilitate this, you might like to print off copies of the graph for students to draw on.
How do we relate a probability density function to a probability?
How do the two graphs relate to each other?
What is the graphical interpretation of an integral?
How important will the effect of the second graph be?
What happens for values larger than $20$? Are these values relevant?
How might you try to estimate the variance for these distributions numerically?
First try to show that numerically the area under the red curve is 1. You can then use the decomposition into rectangles and trapezia to try to work out the mean.
Maths Supporting SET
Manipulating algebraic expressions/formulae
Mathematical reasoning & proof
Probability distributions, expectation and variance
Meet the team
The NRICH Project aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. To support this aim, members of the NRICH team work in a wide range of capacities, including providing professional development for teachers wishing to embed rich mathematical tasks into everyday classroom practice. More information on many of our other activities can be found here.
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