For no reason that I can think of, I decided to see how much Wolfram Alpha knew about probability, so I typed “probability of a full house” into the search box and got the following:

I thought that was pretty cool, especially since it includes the derivations, so I asked a few more questions, such as “probability of at least 2 red cards in a 5 card hand“:

Odd that it will count the numerator but not the (easier) denominator . At this point, I thought I’d try a standard probability question (balls in an urn) that might be harder to parse because of the additional statements: “probability of drawing a blue ball from an urn contaiing 5 blue balls and 7 red balls“. However, I missed the ‘n’ key when typing “containing” and got the following:

So, yeah, OK, Wolfram Alpha doesn’t provide “adult” content (why the quotes?), and I’m pretty sure I know what it’s reading as “adult”, but c’mon. Note that fixing the typo doesn’t alleviate the problem, but it does cause Alpha to hiccup and request more computing time. With variations on the wording, I’ve also had it return a picture of a blue ball along with the HTML code to generate it. Nice.

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This entry was posted on April 19, 2011 at 9:22 am and is filed under Miscellaneous. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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April 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm |

The problem was your choice of color.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=probability+of+drawing+a+green+ball+from+an+urn+containing+5+green+balls+and+7+red+balls&incParTime=true

Wolfram still doesn’t understand it, but there’s no adult content error.

April 29, 2011 at 8:29 am |

[...] In the gee-it-seems-alpha-can-do-anything department, check out this post at the 360 Blog. [...]