As if an upset loss weren’t enough. Mike Kasdan is sad to report that UConn math students are being forced to relive the loss in probability class: “Thanks a lot Professor Chen!”
Earlier this month, Yale’s basketball team came up with an unlikely upset win at the buzzer over UConn.
Lo! There was much celebrating in New Haven that day! But there was no joy in Storrs-ville. For a perennial basketball powerhouse, UConn, losing to an Ivy league team was a shock. Indeed, it was the first time an Ivy League team had defeated U Conn in twenty-eight years.
But it got worse for some. Namely, those students in Visiting Professor Joe Chen’s Mathematics 3160 (Probability) Class. The visiting assistant professor and Yale alum used the on-the-court win in the classroom, assigning students the task of solving a probability word problem based on the upset loss.
As reported by CBSsports.com:
“A very natural question to ask after the game is: how often does such an upset happen? So I set out and found all previous UConn-Ivy League matches from the 1980s using Sports Reference. The fact that there were a sufficient number of sample size (31), plus the fact that the games are virtually independent (teams change, players change), means that the central limit theorem can be applied to a very good approximation!”
Chen’s laudable goal in the exercise was to try to make probability problems as applicable to real life problems as possible:
“My philosophy about teaching probability is to try to make the topics/problems as applicable to real life as possible. After all, what’s the point of understanding the central limit theorem and the bell curve?”
This Editor’s reaction:
“Um . . . I was told there would be no math“
“Here I am, just minding my business, enjoying a college basketball game, and a high level statistics test breaks out!“
In any event, whatever the question is, I’m going with 7 for the answer.
Best and final answer.
Here is the problem, as solved by Chen. Showing all work, for full credit:
So . . . the answer is seven!
7% that is.
As Chen concluded, “the probability of Ivy League opponents upsetting UConn is small, but NOT that small.”
And here, just yesterday, we were worrying about the place for intellectualism and sports! Ha!
It’s all good up at UConn. And especially at Yale.
Photo Credit: Associated Press/Fred Beckham
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