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Homework Help: Expected value and probability

  1. May 31, 2008 #1
    I have the following question:
    2 persons shoot it each other. Person A shoots at Person B, if A misses, B shoots at A and so on.
    The Game continues until one of them hits the other one.
    Probability that A hits B is P1 ,and probability that B hits A is P2.

    I need to find the E[X].

    They give some guidance:
    Declare another Random variable Y as follows:
    Y=0 if person A hits person B on fist shot.
    Y=1 if person B hits person A on fist shot.
    Y=2 if none of them hits on first shot.

    I also have a solution, that I don't understand:

    The idea is: E(X)=E[E[X|Y]]=[tex]\sum[/tex]E[X|Y=y]P(y) (this I understand)
    What I don't understand is how they've calculated the following:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2008 #2


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    Hi yevi! :smile:

    I don't undestand what "g(0)" means, but the rest is fairly clear:

    If Y = 0, then that means that the game stops at 1, so the expected value is 1.

    If Y = 1, then that means that the game stops at 2, so the expected value is 2.

    If Y = 2, then that means that the game starts all over again, as if there had been no shots, and so the expected value is 2 more than it was at the start. :smile:

    (But this is a really cumbersome way of doing it. :frown:

    It would be more straightforward to say:
    E[X|X>2]=2 + E[X])
  4. May 31, 2008 #3
    What do you mean stops at 1 or at 2?
  5. May 31, 2008 #4


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    I mean the game stops at 1 shot, or at 2 shots.

    eg, if Y=0, then A hits B on first shot, so game stops with only 1 shot. :smile:
  6. May 31, 2008 #5
    Person A shoots first. Suppose he hits person B. Then it stops at 1 (one turn)

    Suppose not (i.e. Person A misses), then now it's person B's turn. He shoots. Suppose he hits person A. Then it stops at 2(two turns)

    Now, suppose not again (i.e. person B misses), then now it's back to person A's turn. Hence, it starts over and therefore you have to add 2(two turns) to the expected value. Hope that helps.
  7. May 31, 2008 #6
    Thank you both!
  8. May 31, 2008 #7


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    Interesting! Apparently Tiny Tim and Konthelian helped you solve this problem: find E(X), yet it was never stated what "X" means!
  9. May 31, 2008 #8


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    Hi HallsofIvy! :smile:

    Konthelian and I knew because … we were playing the game yesterday! :wink:

    :eek: … nurse … !
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