StATS: Mathematical and statistical challenges (December 13, 2006)

A regular poster on the EDSTAT-L list (DR) mentioned an interesting page on the IBM website,, that offers a monthly puzzle on mathematical topics. Some of these topics involve statistics and/or probability, such as the January 2006 puzzle:

Consider a loop of string of unit length. Suppose we cut the string independently and at random in n places. This will divide the loop into n pieces. This month's puzzle asks 1. What is the expected (average) size of the smallest piece? 2. What is the expected (average) size of the largest piece?

This page was written by Steve Simon while working at Children's Mercy Hospital. Although I do not hold the copyright for this material, I am reproducing it here as a service, as it is no longer available on the Children's Mercy Hospital website. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: Statistical theory.