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The coin flip conundrum - Po-Shen Loh

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TEDEd Animation

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When you flip a coin to make a decision, there's an equal chance of getting heads and tails. What if you flipped two coins repeatedly, so that one option would win as soon as two heads showed up in a row on that coin, and one option would win as soon as heads was immediately followed by tails on the other? Would each option still have an equal chance? Po-Shen Loh describes the counterintuitive math behind this question.

Once the coin flipping is modeled as an abstract board game, can you provide, in the simplest possible language, an intuitive explanation for why Orville (seeking heads immediately followed by heads) is at a disadvantage?

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Po-Shen Loh
  • Director Mimi Chiu
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Producer Aaron Augenblick
  • Animator Mimi Chiu
  • Collaborator Andrea Janov , Zach Nelkin, Mark Paulson
  • Associate Producer Elizabeth Cox, Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Fact-Checker Brian Gutierrez

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