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Homework Help: A little help understanding this bayesian problem (very basic)

  1. Dec 20, 2011 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    so i'm trying to teach myself bayes, and i got a book, and i'm going through trying to do the exercises, and lo and behold, i get stuck on the first one. i thought i was getting it, but the answer given at the back of the book is different than mine.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    i've attached three pictures. the first is the actual problem. so when i did it myself, i got that the first column of priors should all be 1/10, since we're assuming that the urn can contain 0 up to 9 red balls, for a total of 10 possibilities. the second picture is the answer, where it seems that i should have said 1/9 for the first column. the third picture is an example that seems to me to indicate that it should be 1/10. what am i missing?

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2011 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    There are 10 possible values for X, but there are only 9 balls to choose from.
    What does the prior probability represent in this case?
  4. Dec 20, 2011 #3
    the prior probability represents the number of red balls in the urn. i'm told to assume that each possibility is equally likely. so there might be zero balls, 1 ball, 2 balls, etc, up to 9 balls. that should be a 1/10 probability for each case. furthermore, shouldn't the prior column sum up to 1? in the answer, doesn't the prior column sum up to 10/9?
  5. Dec 20, 2011 #4

    Ray Vickson

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    You are correct. Either the "zero balls" case should not be present (giving 1/9 probability of each of the others) or else it is present and all priors should be 1/10.

  6. Dec 20, 2011 #5
    thank you. also, i should have been more clear, the third picture was an example with the exact same problem, just fewer balls.
  7. Dec 20, 2011 #6

    Simon Bridge

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    Yes - I'm inclined to agree that the text is mistaken in the model answer.
    Frustrating, I know.

    I had a go trying to identify the mistake but failed. Why would the author think to assume that P(X=x)=x/(N-1)?

    I'd ignore the answers but do the analysis anyway. Pause at each step to see if what you get makes sense. The other one seems to be right - maybe you want to start with that instead.
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