PROBABILITY theory is a branch of mathematics concerned with determining the likelihood that a given event will occur. This likelihood is determined by dividing the number of selected events by the number of total events possible. For example, probability of number of times a “1 dot”turns up when a die is rolled is 1 out of 6, or 1/6. Probability is always represented as a fraction.
As a mathematical foundation for statistics, probability theory is essential to many human activities that involve quantitative analysis of large sets of data. Many great discoveries of twentieth century physics demonstrate the probabilistic nature of physical phenomena at atomic scales, described in quantum mechanics. Probability deals with measuring the likelihood of a particular outcome or event. Statistics is the collection, tabulation, and systematic classification of data, especially for use in predicting probable future trends. Crude ideas of probability and statistics likely evolved with the earliest humans, helping them decide where to go in search of food, shelter, and safety. Today’s theories and methods of probability and statistics enable people to collect and analyse information relating to more complex situations than in the past, such as the prevalence or incidence of diseases among a group of people.
During sixteenth century, mathematician Gerolamo Cardano attempted to analyse games of chance and eventually formulated the basics of probability theory. Mathematicians Pierre de Fermat and Blaise Pascal further developed the mathematical theory of probability in the seventeenth century. Christiaan Huygens published a book on probability theory in 1657.
Initially, probability theory mainly considered discrete events, and its methods were mainly combinatorial. Eventually, analytical considerations compelled the incorporation of continuous variables into the theory.
Russian mathematician Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov (1903-1987) advanced probability theory with his formalisation of the intuitive notion of probability in 1933. Kolmogorov formalised a better mathematical foundation for applications.
Probability theory is applied in everyday life in risk assessment and in trade on commodity markets.