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ERIC Number: EJ900054
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Nov
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0746-8342
More Mathematics in the Bedroom: A Paradoxical Probability
Stockmeyer, Paul K.
College Mathematics Journal, v38 n5 p339-344 Nov 2007
A standard mattress can be positioned on a bed frame in any of four orientations. Suppose that four times a year the mattress is rotated into one of the three possible new orientations, chosen at random. According to an article in The American Scientist, a computer simulation suggests the rather surprising result that over a period of 10 years, the most frequently occurring orientation occurs 31 percent of the time, while the least frequently occurring orientation occurs just 19 percent of the time. This paper contains an investigation of this phenomenon, which supports the claim of the simulation. Along the way, it considers a similar but more easily explored problem in coin flipping, deriving the distribution functions for the more frequent and less frequent outcomes of heads and tails for a sequence of n independent flips of a fair coin.
Mathematical Association of America. 1529 Eighteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-741-9415; Tel: 202-387-5200; Fax: 202-387-1208; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A