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Buffett’s $1B Challenge: Breaking Down Your Actual Odds

Released: 22-Jan-2014 11:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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John Pike is a professor of mathematics at Cornell University where he specializes in probability and statistics. He says the odds of predicting a perfect NCAA March Madness bracket – a feat Warren Buffett has offered to award $1B to – are much better than the 1-in-9.2 quintillion estimates given by other mathematicians, but the chance someone will win is still slim.

He says:

“The 1-in-9.2 quintillion estimate is based on the assumption that each guess of a particular game outcome is like an independent toss of a coin. Of course, if you tweak the assumptions, you get different answers.

“For example, if you assume that someone has a 60 percent chance of correctly guessing the outcome of any given game, then the odds of them guessing all games correctly are about 1-in-94 trillion. If their chance of guessing correctly is 80 percent, then this works out to about 1-in-78 million.

“For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you have a strategy and its chance of winning is as much as one-in-a-billion. If 10 million people play, then the odds that no one wins are about 99 percent.”

For interviews contact:
Syl Kacapyr
(607) 255-7701
vpk6@cornell.edu

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.

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