Bertrand's Box Paradox

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Consider three boxes. Box 1 contains two gold coins, box 2 contains two silver coins, and box 3 contains one gold and one silver coin. A box is chosen at random and then the coins in that box are chosen one at a time. Suppose that the first coin is gold. What is the probability that the second coin is also gold?


On the one hand, since the box chosen must be 1 or 3, it would seem that the next coin is either gold or silver with probability 1/2 for each.

On the other hand, it is more likely that the first gold coin comes from box 1 than box 3, leading to the probability 2/3 [1].

Which is it?


Contributed by: D. Meliga and S. Z. Lavagnino (January 2017)
Additional contribution by: G. Follo
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA




[1] Wikipedia. "Bertrand's Box Paradox." (Jan 20, 2017)'s_box _paradox.

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