Math Lab

# From determining weather to making informed decisions: 4 ways probability can be used in real life

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Manan Khurma

Probability refers to a number that reflects the likelihood or chance that a certain event will occur. It is that branch of mathematics that we use most often in our day-to-day lives without even realising it.

At some point, we have all made decisions by throwing dice or flipping a coin. For instance, we use a coin toss in cricket to determine which team will have the right to choose whether to bat or bowl first.

There are numerous other practical applications of probability in real life:

Weather Forecasting: If the weather forecast on the news or the weather app on your phone informs you that there is an 80 per cent chance of rain, you might just carry an umbrella when heading out. Meteorologists study the historical record of the conditions of an area, like temperature, humidity, and pressure, to determine the chances of rain. Using these factors, you can calculate the probability of rain falling in that area.

Sports: Probability plays a critical role in sports strategy. For example, statisticians and analysts study the historical records of players to determine which position they are best suited to play at and how likely they are to perform well in certain playing conditions. Probability also allows statisticians to calculate a team's probability and make informed decisions about whether a team is likely to win a game.

Healthcare and medicine: When advised to undergo surgery, the success rate of a procedure or operation plays a critical role in a patient's decision-making process. The success rate is the percentage of success among a number of attempts. For instance, if 42 out of 50 patients have a successful surgery, the success rate can be calculated as follows-

42/50 = 0.84

Now, to convert it into a percentage, we multiple it by 100.

0.84 X 100 = 84%

Hence, the success rate for the surgery is 84%. That number might put the patient at ease and help them make an informed decision.

Typing on Smart Devices: When we're typing away on our smartphones or tablets, we often notice how the keyboard software offers suggestions or predictions. A lot of times, those predictions are actually helpful. How does the keyboard even know which words we are more likely to use? It does this using machine learning models that leverage the concept of probability.

Probability, without a doubt, has become an indispensable part of our lives. We often express it without even using mathematical percentages.

The writer is Founder and CEO of Cuemath.

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