Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide

Introduction to Compound Events:

In the world of probability, compound events are probabilities of two or more things happening at once. For example, what is the probability that you forgot to do your homework and there will be a pop quiz in class?

We'll go over three different ways to compute these probabilities (organized lists, tree diagrams, and area models) and show you examples using each method.

Measuring Compound Events Using Organized Lists

Using the organized list method, you would list all the different possible outcomes that could occur. This can be difficult, because there's a high probability that we will forget one or two options.

For example, if you flip a coin and roll a die, what is the probability of getting tails and an even number?

First, we need to start by listing all the possible outcomes we could get. (H1 means flipping heads and rolling a 1.)

H1T1
H2T2
H3T3
H4T4
H5T5
H6T6

There are twelve possible outcomes, and three of these outcomes give a desired outcome (tails plus an even number). These are T2, T4, and T6. So the probability is:

3/12 = 1/4 = 25%

Example 1

In Clarajean's closet are four pairs of pants (black, white, grey, and brown), and five different shirts (blue, white, red, yellow, and purple). How many different outfits can she make with these options?

And, if she was to blindly pick a pair of pants and a shirt, what is the probability that the pants and shirt will be the same color?

First we need to list all the different outfits she can make, like white pants with a red shirt. The first color will be for the pants, and the second will be for the shirts.

Black-Blue Black-White Black-Red Black-Yellow Black-Purple
White-Blue White-White White-Red White-Yellow White-Purple
Grey-Blue Grey-White Grey-Red Grey-Yellow Grey-Purple
Brown-Blue Brown-White Brown-Red Brown-Yellow Brown-Purple

Whew, that was long and tedious, but it got the job done. There are 20 different outfits.

Only one of the outfits has matching pants and shirt (white-white). So, the probability of blindly picking pants and shirts of the same color is:

P = 1/20 = 5%

Example 2

If you toss a coin three times, what is the probability of flipping at least 2 heads?

Now, we are working with three different events (each flip counts as an individual event). To help keep this organized, we can list these in three columns.

Flip 1Flip 2Flip 3
HHH
HHT
HTH
HTT
THH
THT
TTH
TTT

There are 8 different outcomes. These are the favorable ones: HHT, HTH, THH, and HHH (at least 2 heads includes flipping three). So the probability is:

P = 4/8 = 50%

Measuring Compound Events Using Tree Diagrams

Tree diagrams will give you the same answer as lists

Let's look at the coin and die example again: if you flip a coin and roll a die, what is the probability of getting tails and an even number?

We can chart all the possible outcomes by making a tree. The first set of "branches" will be all the possible outcomes of the first event. (It doesn't matter which event we put first, the total outcomes will be the same.) From each of those outcomes, draw branches for all the possibilities of the second event.

It could look like this:

tree diagram

Or this:

Tree diagram

By counting the smallest branches, we see that there are 12 possibilities. So the probability of flipping a tail and rolling an even number is:

P = 3/12 = 1/4 = 25%

Example 1

In Clarajean's closet are four pairs of pants (black, white, grey, and brown), and five different shirts (blue, white, red, yellow, and purple). How many different outfits can she make with these options?

And, if she was to blindly pick a pair of pants and a shirt, what is the probability that the pants and shirt will be the same color?

If we start with the shirts, then add the pants, our tree diagram should look something like this:

shirt and pants

Only one branch has matching pants and shirt (white pants and white shirt). So, the probability of blindly picking pants and shirts of the same color is:

P = 1/20 = 5%

Example 2

If you toss a coin three times, what is the probability of flipping at least 2 heads?

With three events, we will have three sets of branches on our tree.

Coin Tree Diagram

There are eight different possibilities, four of which give at least two heads. So the probability is:

P = 4/8 = 50%

Measuring Compound Events Using Area Models

The final way we will chart these problems is the area model.We're smitten with this method because it's hard to forget an outcome using it.

Example: if you flip a coin and roll a die, what is the probability of getting tails and an even number?

Start by making a table with the outcomes of one event listed on the top and the outcomes of the second event listed on the side. Fill in the cells of the table with the corresponding outcomes for each event. We can shade the cells that fit our probability.

Die vs. Coin

There are twelve cells, of which three are shaded. So the probability is:

P = 3/12 = 1/4 = 25%

Example 1

Going back to Clarajean's closet, she has four pairs of pants (black, white, grey, and brown), and five different shirts (blue, white, red, yellow, and purple). How many different outfits can she make with these options?

And, again, if she was to blindly pick a pair of pants and a shirt, what is the probability that the pants and shirt will be the same color?

Here's our table. We shaded the favorable outcome.

shirt vs. pants

There are 20 different cells, which means 20 different options (4x5=20).  One cell is shaded to represent the one time when she could pick the same color for both shirt and pants.  Based on the calculation below, the probability that she'll pick the same color for both is 5%.

P = 1/20 = 5%

Example 2

If you toss a coin three times, what is the probability of flipping at least 2 heads?

Three events make the area model a bit more complicated since there are only two places to list the events (top and side). To work around this, draw one table for the first two events,

Coin 1 vs. Coin 2

Now use those outcomes (HH, HT, TH, TT) for the rows or columns of a second table.

Coin 1+2 vs. Coin 3

In the final table, there are eight different cells, four of which are shaded.

P = 4/8 = 50%

Compound Events Practice:

Exercise 1

Use this tree diagram of drawing a card from a deck of cards, then flipping a coin, then rolling a die, to answer the questions.

Tree diagram


Exercise 2

How many different outcomes could happen?


Exercise 3

What is the probability drawing a black card, flipping tails, and rolling a 6?


Exercise 4

What is the probability of drawing a red card, flipping heads and rolling an odd number?


Exercise 5

Make an area model to illustrate the different possible outcomes for drawing a certain suit from a deck of cards and rolling a die.


Exercise 6

Using the area model above, what is the probability of drawing a spade and rolling a number less than three?


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