A Complete Misuse of Mathematics

Rebecca and I have a bet going at the moment.

As a result of our (that is myself, her and Dom) getting together at the Red Orchid last Saturday I’ve found myself organising a similar get together for my Birthday, provisionally scheduled in for the 28th (that is the get together is provisionally scheduled for the 28th. My birthday is going to be on the 28th no matter what I do 🙂

Now before I actually fix the schedule to this date and do more organising I need to find out if Andrew and Travis can make it or not. As such I’ve emailed them and am currently waiting for a reply…

The thing is that Andrew is completely notorious for not checking or replying to messages – be they emails or left on his answering machine. So while bored at our respective workplaces, Rebecca and I set up a pool on when I’d actually hear back from him. I (somewhat optimistically) reckoned it’d be Saturday at the latest. Rebecca went for Monday. At stake? A bag of low-fat sun-dried tomato pretzels!

Well we were hardly going to bet money were we? 🙂

Anyway, it’s now Friday night and there’s still no sign of a response. I’m tempted to just give him a call, but under the rules we negotiated any attempt to influence the outcome by contacting him results in a forfeit. Not that I’m absolutely desperate to win the pretzels or anything, it just wouldn’t be in the spirit of the thing. So, I guess I’ll wait until Sunday, at which point Rebecca will have won by default and it won’t matter what I do.

Actually talking of Rebecca and probabilities (well betting has to do with probabilities doesn’t it? Please try and keep up 🙂 I got thinking yesterday about something she said to me while we were organising last week’s dinner. We were talking via email at our respective workplaces and had just agreed on Saturday night when I remembered that I might be busy on Saturday and emailed back saying we might have to switch to Sunday instead. Her response was “Please tell me you have a date”. Sadly I had to instead tell her that I might be doing some role-playing at Fabian’s place 🙂

Anyway I was thinking about this conversation yesterday and reflecting that her question was really rather silly. After all, given my general level of geekiness my having a date that Saturday night or indeed on any given night is intrinsically unlikely. Then I got thinking about just how unlikely it was and realised I could actually calculate it. So, being a gigantic Geek I decided to do so 😀

So, here we go. How likely is it that I – Denys the Purple Wyrm – would have had a date last Saturday?

OK, let’s set up some basic starting points. We’ll assume that we’re talking about a first date since if I’d already been out on a date with someone and it had gone so well as to make a second date possible, then Rebecca would have heard about it. We’ll also assume that this first date was arranged at some point during the preceding two weeks, as two weeks would seem to me to be about the longest time you would reasonably wait to go out with someone (if they couldn’t find or make some free time with two weeks notice, they’re probably not very interested).

OK, to actually go on a date, I would have to have someone to go on a date with. This someone would have to meet some basic criteria – specifically they’d have to be female, and around my own age, let’s say 25 to 30. So how likely is it that I would have met someone matching this profile over the previous two weeks?

Unfortunately I work in a male-dominated industry, and don’t have much of a social life, hence I don’t meet a lot of women. I would say that over the last ten years (since leaving high school) I would have met an average of 5 women aged 25 to 30 a year. So, the odds of me having met a woman aged 25 to 30 over the previous two weeks would be…

5/(52/2) = 0.1923

… or about 5.2 to 1 against.

Assuming that I had met someone, she’d have to be single. I don’t have statistics on the ratio of single women in Perth in the 25 to 30 age bracket, so I’ll make a simple assumption of 50%. So, the odds of me having met a single woman aged 25 to 30 over the previous two weeks would be…

0.1923/2 = 0.096154

… or about 10.4 to 1 against.

Now, this woman would not only have to be attractive enough for me to be interested in seeing more of her, but she’d have to be attractive enough for me to overcome my various social phobias and neuroses and actually ask her out *g* (OK, I suppose theoretically she might ask me out, however that hasn’t happened even once during the last ten years, so we can safely ignore the possibility). Within the last ten years I’ve only met one woman that I found so instantly attractive as to even consider such a course of action, had circumstances made it possible. So, if I’ve met an average of 5 women a year for the last ten years that comes to a ratio of…

1/50 = 0.02

(NOTE: This is not to say that none of the other 49 women were attractive, or that I wouldn’t have liked to go out with any of them, just that for me to actually pull myself together enough to do something about it the woman in question has to be something really special 🙂


0.096154 * 0.02 = 0.001923

…or about 520 to 1 against.

Naturally in order for us to have a date, the woman in question would have had to agree to go out with me. Given my social skills, general appearance and presentation the odds of this are not fantastic. However we can be charitable and assume that the qualities that made this woman attractive enough for me to ask her out in the first place (above average intelligence, good sense of humour, an obviously unconventional take on life etc.) would make her slightly more likely than average to at least give me a chance. So, let’s assume a probability of 30%…

0.001923 * 0.3 = 0.0005769

…or about 1733 to 1 against.

OK, so the odds of me having a date on any given night over the last ten years are 1733 to 1 against. What about any given Saturday night?

The likelihood of any date being arranged for a Saturday night is actually quite high, as I’m generally too tired after working all week to do anything on Friday nights, and I’ve got to get up and go to work the next morning on all other nights. So let’s say 75%…

0.0005769 * 0.75 = 0.00043262931

…or about 2311 to 1 against.

So, the final odds of me having had a date on any given Saturday night over the last ten years are about 2311 to 1 against. Not quite Heart-of-Gold-elderberry-bush-full-of-kippers style improbable, but I still wouldn’t be holding my breath Rebecca 😉

PS: I was really looking forward to the season premiere of The Dead Zone but taped the wrong channel. GAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! >:-Z

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