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Probability is a measure of the likeliness that an event will occur. Many events can't be predicted with total certainty. The best we can say is how likely they are to happen, using the idea of probability.
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Scope and Importance:
Probability is used to quantify an attitude of mind towards some proposition of whose truth we are not certain. The proposition of interest is usually of the form "Will a specific event occur?" The attitude of mind is of the form "How certain are we that the event will occur?" The certainty we adopt can be described in terms of a numerical measure and this number, between 0 and 1 (where 0 indicates impossibility and 1 indicates certainty), we call probability. Thus the higher the probability of an event, the more certain we are that the event will occur.
These concepts have been given an axiomatic mathematical formalization in probability theory (see probability axioms), which is used widely in such areas of study as mathematics, statistics, finance, gambling, science (in particular physics), artificial intelligence/machine learning, computer science, and philosophy to, for example, draw inferences about the expected frequency of events. Probability theory is also used to describe the underlying mechanics and regularities of complex systems.
Like other theories, the theory of probability is a representation of probabilistic concepts in formal terms—that is, in terms that can be considered separately from their meaning. These formal terms are manipulated by the rules of mathematics and logic, and any results are interpreted or translated back into the problem domain.
Probability theory is applied in everyday life in risk assessment and in trade on financial markets. Governments apply probabilistic methods in environmental regulation, where it is called pathway analysis. A good example is the effect of the perceived probability of any widespread Middle East conflict on oil prices—which have ripple effects in the economy as a whole.
There are several competing interpretations of the actual "meaning" of probabilities. Frequentists view probability simply as a measure of the frequency of outcomes (the more conventional interpretation), while Bayesians treat probability more subjectively as a statistical procedure that endeavors to estimate parameters of an underlying distribution based on the observed distribution.
A properly normalized function that assigns a probability "density" to each possible outcome within some interval is called a probability density function(or probability distribution function), and its cumulative value (integral for a continuous distribution or sum for a discrete distribution) is called a distribution function (or cumulative distribution function).
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This page was last updated on February 28, 2024