Trying to find math inside everything else

Posts tagged ‘expected value’

Hedging Your Bets

At trivia tonight, one of the bonus round was a matching question – match the 10 movies to the character Ben Stiller plays. We (and by we I mean my teammates, as I know very little about Ben Stiller) knew 7 of the questions for sure, but had no clue for the other three.

At that point, one of my teammates asked me if it would make more sense to put the same answer for all three, rather than guessing. That way we would be guaranteed a point, as opposed to maybe getting them all wrong. It took me a minute to think it through, but I told him it didn’t matter either way and I’d rather take the chance of getting all 3 right. (We won trivia on a tie-breaker final question, so a 1 point difference would have been a big deal.)

I figured there were 6 possible ways we could write down our answer – 1 correct way (call it A B C), 3 ways that get us 1 point (A C B, C B A, and B A C) and 2 ways that get us 0 points. (B C A and C A B). Calculating that expected value gets us an EV of 1 point, the same as his suggestion – so, mathematically, they are equivalent. Then it just comes down to your willingness to take that risk, since it’s not a repeatable event.

And as we always say every week, go big or go home.