# [Taxacom] Random taxonomy

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Dec 1 18:46:16 CST 2013

```Probability makes no sense anyway! If you have a disease which is fatal in 99% of cases, but a rare gene such that the same disease is fatal in only 50% of cases, then what is the probability that you will die of the disease if you catch it? What if you don't know that you do have the rare gene??

________________________________
From: Richard Zander <Richard.Zander at mobot.org>
To: Knut Rognes <knut at rognes.no>; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Monday, 2 December 2013 1:21 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Random taxonomy

This is the famous "birthday problem" in combinatorics. Check any book on probabilistic theory.

_______________________
Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166 U.S.A.
richard.zander at mobot.org

________________________________

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Knut Rognes
Sent: Fri 11/29/2013 4:24 AM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] Random taxonomy

Dear Taxacomers,

I have a statistical problem.

Consider 50 black boxes, within each is a specimen of fly. Each fly has been
identified by someone, its name written on the inside of the box, but this
is invisible to you. You cannot peek inside. Each fly belong to one of 50
possible species.

You have at your disposal the 50 possible species names for these flies,
each name printed on an adhesive label, the supply of printed labels for
each name is limitless.

Here is the game: you affix a random label on the outside of a random box.

Now the problem: What is the likelihood that you put a correct label on the
box, i.e. that the name on the label matches the identity of the fly within?

Knut Rognes

Oslo, Norway

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