Union of Compound Events
When multiple independent events may occur during a particular experiment, there are a couple of different types of outcomes you may need to consider:
- Intersection: the probability of both or all of the events you are calculating happening at the same time (less likely).
- Union: the probability of any one of multiple events happening at a given time (more likely).
In this lesson, we will focus on union. Calculating the union is relatively easy, you just add up the individual probabilities of the events:
This can also be thought of as:
It is really just that simple! It is intuitive also, assuming there is no overlap (which we will consider later), it just makes sense to think that if you have a 20% probability of one thing happening, and a 30% probability of another, then you have a 50% probability of one of the two of them happening during a given experiment.
1. You are given a big containing 15 equally sized marbles. You know there are 5 yellow marbles, 5 blue marbles, and 5 green marbles in the bag. What is the statistical probability that you would pull a yellow or green marble out, if you reach in the bag and grab a marble at random?
Recall the formula for the union of simple probabilities:
In this case, we have:
Which would reduce to:
2. What is the probability of rolling an odd or even number on a standard six-sided die?
A standard die has three odd numbers (1, 3, 5) and three even numbers (2, 4, 6). Therefore, the probability of rolling an odd or even number is:
3. If Lawrence is playing with a standard 52-card deck, what is the probability of pulling a 2, a 4, or a 6 out of the deck at random?
Let’s solve this one as the total of the individual probabilities. Lawrence’s probability of pulling a 2, 4, or 6 is the same as the union of the probability of each possible outcome:
Earlier Problem Revisited
Remember that the union of multiple probabilities is simple the total sum of all of the individual probabilities:
What is the statistical probability of pulling either the only red or the only blue marble out of a bag with 12 marbles in it?
What is the probability of a spinner landing on “2”, “3”, or “6” if there are 6 equally spaced points on the spinner?
What is the probability of pulling a red or black card at random from a standard deck?
What probability of picking a red or green marble from a bag with 5 red, 7 green, 6 blue, and 14 yellow marbles in it?
What is the of shaking the hand of a student wearing red if you randomly shake the hand of one person in a room containing the following mix of students?
- 13 female students wearing blue
- 7 male students wearing blue
- 6 female students wearing red
- 9 males students wearing red
- 18 female students wearing green
- 21 male students wearing green
- What is the probability of rolling a standard die and getting between a 1 and 6 (inclusive)?
- What is the probability of pulling one card from a standard deck and it being an 8, a 3, or a queen?
- What is the probability of rolling a 5 or a 2 on an 8-sided die?
- What is the probability of pulling one card from a standard deck and it being a spade, a diamond, or a club?
- What is the probability of rolling a 1, 3, or 5 on a 7-sided die?
- What is the probability of pulling one card from a standard deck and it being a king, a 4, or a 8?
- What is the probability of pulling a yellow or blue candy from a bag containing 35 candies equally distributed among yellow, blue, green, red, and brown candies?
- What is the probability of spinning 2, 4, or 7 on a 10-space spinner (equally spaced)?
- What is the probability of rolling a 1, 3, 5, or 6 on a 20-sided die?
- A car factory creates cars in the following ratio: 3 green, 2 blue, 7 white, 2 black and 1 brown. What is the probability that a randomly selected car will be either blue or brown?
- There are 4 flavors of donuts on the shelf: glazed, sprinkles, plain, and powdered sugar. If there are equal numbers of each of the non-plain donuts, and half as many plain as any one of the others, what is the probability of randomly choosing a plain donut out of all donuts on the shelf?
- What is the probability of randomly choosing a red Ace or a black King from a standard deck?
- What is the probability of rolling a prime number or an even number on a standard die?
- Mr. Spence’s class has 13 students. 4 students are wearing coats, 3 are wearing vests, 3 are wearing hoodies, and the rest are in t-shirts. What is the probability that Mr. Spence will randomly call the name of a student wearing a coat or a vest?
- In the same class, what is the probability that Mr. Spence will randomly call the name of a student in a hoodie or t-shirt?
To view the Review answers, open this PDF file and look for section 6.2.