Another important discrete probability distribution is the Poisson distribution, named in honor of the French mathematician and physicist Simeon Poisson (1781-1840). This probability distribution is often used to model the frequency with which a specified event occurs during a particular period of time. The Poisson probability formula is
where X is the number of times the event occurs and λ is a parameter equal to the mean of X. The number e is the base of natural logarithms and is approximately equal to 2.7183. To illustrate, consider the following problem: Desert Samaritan Hospital, located in Mesa, Arizona, keeps records of emergency room traffic. Those records reveal that the number of patients who arrive between 6:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. has a Poisson distribution with parameter λ = 6.9. Determine the probability that, on a given day, the number of patients who arrive at the emergency room between 6:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. will be
a. Exactly 4.
b. At most 2.
c. Between 4 and 10, inclusive.

  • CreatedAugust 13, 2015
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