Jacob Haller (jwgh) wrote,
Jacob Haller


Pick a number, any number. I'll send the person who picks the number closest to the average of all the entries $5. (Average in this case means the arithmetic mean.)

If more than one person wins I'll pick one of them at random.

The winner will be chosen on Monday, at which point I'll also reveal the numbers that people picked. (For now, for obvious reasons, the results of the poll can only be viewed by me.)

Numbers chosen must be real numbers. Please don't submit entries that make me do complicated calculations, or look things up, etc.

Pick a number, any number


If three people enter the contest, and they pick 5, 11, and 23, then the average would be 13.0, and the person who picked 11 would win.

If the only entries were pi, -12, seven billion, and 2 1/2, then the average would be around 175 million and the person who picked pi would win.
Where this idea came from:

I had heard that, in contests of the sort where there is a fishbowl full of jelly beans and people have to guess how many beans are in the bowl, although individual guesses may be off wildly, the average of the guesses is likely to be very close to the number of beans, and indeed will often be closer than any single guess.

So it occurred to me that if you were holding a contest of this kind, it would probably be more practical to calculate the average of the guesses (since you have to go through all the entries anyway) and use that as the assumed number of beans than to actually empty the beans and count them. And then I thought, at that point, why do you need the bowl or the beans to begin with?
Why I am doing this:

I am curious as to what numbers people will pick.
Tags: experiment, math

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