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A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit [#permalink]
05 Feb 2013, 07:40

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Question Stats:

62% (01:51) correct
38% (00:48) wrong based on 320 sessions

A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit numbers from 0 to 9 at once such that order does not matter. What is the probability that a player will win playing the lottery?

1) Players must match at least two numbers to win.

Re: A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit [#permalink]
05 Feb 2013, 10:12

3

This post received KUDOS

Expert's post

danzig wrote:

A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit numbers from 0 to 9 at once such that order does not matter. What is the probability that a player will win playing the lottery? (1) Players must match at least two numbers to win. (2) X = 4

I'm happy to help.

This is a somewhat offbeat question, but then again, that's just what the GMAT will throw at you.

So, from the prompt, we know we are picking X different single digit numbers: X must be greater than two and less than 9 (or 10, if we are counting zero as a "single digit number" ----- let's ignore that complication). Order doesn't matter. We know nothing about what constitutes winning.

Statement #1: Players must match at least two numbers to win. Now, at least we know what constitutes winning. The trouble is --- we don't know the how many digits are picked. If X = 9 ---- the lottery picks all the digits from 1-9, then I also pick all the digits from 1-9 --- then I have 100% chance of matching at least two digits and winning. That wouldn't be much of a lottery. If X = 3 --- the lottery picks three, and then I pick three --- well, that's harder. Clearly the probability of winning depends on the value of X, and we don't know that in Statement #1. This statement, alone and by itself, is insufficient.

Statement #2: X = 4 Now, we know how many digits are picked ---- lottery picks 4, then I pick 4 --- but now I have no idea what constitutes "winning". (This is an example of a DS question in which it's crucially important to forget all about Statement #1 when we are analyzing Statement #2 on its own.) In Statement #2, we know how many digits are picked, but we have absolutely no idea what constitutes winning. This statement, alone and by itself, is insufficient.

Combined statements: Now, we know --- the lottery picks 4 digits, then I pick 4 digits, and if at least two of my digits match two of the lottery's cards, I win. This is now a well defined math problem, and if we wanted, we could calculate the numerical value of the probability. Of course, since this is DS, it would be a big mistake to waste time with that calculation. We have enough information now. Combined, the statements are sufficient.

Re: A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit [#permalink]
05 Feb 2013, 11:49

Expert's post

Hi,

I think that Mike's explanation is great. I'm just wondering where this question came from? The wording seems strange to the point that the question may not be solvable. Here is the potentially problematic wording: distinct single digit numbers from 0 to 9

What does that mean? Does that mean single digit INTEGERS between 0 and 9 or just single digit numbers. My assumption is that single digit numbers between 0 and 9 are not just "the digits" but could include the single digit decimals .1,.2,.3.... Anyone?

I guess that if you assume that the question includes the extra decimals then Mike's solution still works although I'm curious about whether this is an official question.

HG. _________________

"It is a curious property of research activity that after the problem has been solved the solution seems obvious. This is true not only for those who have not previously been acquainted with the problem, but also for those who have worked over it for years." -Dr. Edwin Land

Re: A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit [#permalink]
07 Feb 2013, 08:22

HerrGrau wrote:

Hi,

I think that Mike's explanation is great. I'm just wondering where this question came from? The wording seems strange to the point that the question may not be solvable. Here is the potentially problematic wording: distinct single digit numbers from 0 to 9

What does that mean? Does that mean single digit INTEGERS between 0 and 9 or just single digit numbers. My assumption is that single digit numbers between 0 and 9 are not just "the digits" but could include the single digit decimals .1,.2,.3.... Anyone?

I guess that if you assume that the question includes the extra decimals then Mike's solution still works although I'm curious about whether this is an official question.

HG.

It's tagged as a grockit problem, so I would guess that this is not an official question. It is also tagged as a 600-700 lvl question, which seems high to me for this question...I don't have any experience with Grockit, but MGMAT questions that are in the 600-700 range tend to be more difficult for me to solve.

Re: A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit [#permalink]
07 Feb 2013, 10:09

Expert's post

HerrGrau wrote:

Hi, The wording seems strange to the point that the question may not be solvable. Here is the potentially problematic wording: distinct single digit numbers from 0 to 9 What does that mean? Does that mean single digit INTEGERS between 0 and 9 or just single digit numbers. My assumption is that single digit numbers between 0 and 9 are not just "the digits" but could include the single digit decimals .1,.2,.3.... Anyone?

Dear HerrGrau Thank you for your kind words.

In my experience, I have never heard "single digit numbers" apply to anything other than non-negative integers. I have never seen any book or hear anyone ever refer to, say, -5 or 0.008 or 3 x 10^8 as a "single digit number. Yes, technically, each of these is written with a single non-zero digit, but I have never heard the term "single digit number" used for them. (We could say that each of these has "one significant figure", but that carries us far afield into measurement theory, well beyond GMAT territory.)

In my mind, the only ambiguity in this question is whether zero is included --- I guess I was assuming, whatever their understanding of the term, this understanding would be fixed and wouldn't change as we moved through the statements of the DS ---- therefore, with both statements, and with whatever convention they are following, the question can be definitely answered.

I agree with you ---- this question is not written with the tight precision so characteristic of official GMAT questions. The very fact that there's any ambiguity at all makes this a woefully substandard question.

Re: A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit [#permalink]
07 Feb 2013, 14:47

Expert's post

Hi Mike,

In general I agree with everything that you're saying. Just to clarify, I think that .008 is a three digit number with 2 unique digits and so would be excluded. The numbers in question are .1, .2, .3, .4, .5, .6, .7, .8, and .9. They are numbers that have only one digit and hence are "single digit numbers". I have never seen this distinction be an actual issue on a GMAT question but am curious as to what the general consensus is.

HG. _________________

"It is a curious property of research activity that after the problem has been solved the solution seems obvious. This is true not only for those who have not previously been acquainted with the problem, but also for those who have worked over it for years." -Dr. Edwin Land

Re: A lottery is played by selecting X distinct single digit [#permalink]
26 Jul 2014, 01:46

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