In the spirit of the new year – the International Year of Statistics – I thought I’d share some different ways to use statistics.

Let's say you have a dresser drawer full of white socks.  But rather than all the socks being the same, you have two different styles (for example, Gold Toe and Champions).  Therefore you can't just reach in and grab two socks and expect them to match.

Of course, you could count the number of each kind of socks and calculate the probability that picking two random socks would result in a matching pair -- but that doesn't really help you get dressed quickly, does it?!?

Here's the solution, using brute-force statistics:

You can rest assured that if you grab *three* socks, there's a 100% probability that at least two of them will match! (and then you can easily throw the 3rd sock back in the drawer)

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The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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• Robert Allison on

As with pre-processing your data ... in this case you'd want to pre-process your socks! :)