World Cup fans need math to figure out scenarios

World Cup fans need math to figure out scenarios

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Every four years, the World Cup forces fans to remember their math lessons.

Working out what each team needs from its final match to finish in the top two of a group and advance to the knockout rounds takes some algebra knowledge and powers of prediction.

After Brazil and Mexico played to a scoreless draw on Tuesday, the calculation became clear: Both teams just need to draw in their next matches to advance with five points in Group A. Croatia, which beat Cameroon Wednesday, would get to six points by beating Mexico. So a draw with Cameroon would still get Brazil through with five points. If Mexico beats Croatia, Brazil would advance even if it loses. But if Mexico and Croatia draw, and Brazil loses — then it gets complicated with tiebreakers.

Netherlands' Arjen Robben, front, scores the opening goal past Australia's Matthew Spiranovic, right, and Australia's goalkeeper Mat Ryan, back, during the g...

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Featured book:

The Math of Sports: Integrating Math in the Real World (Integrating Math in the Real World Series)

World Cup Math

World Cup Math: Birthday Paradox

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27835311

It’s puzzling but true that in any group of 23 people there is a 50% chance that two share a birthday. At the World Cup in Brazil there are 32 squads, each of 23 people… so do they demonstrate the truth of this mathematical axiom?

Imagine the scene at the Brazilian football team’s hotel. Hulk and Paulinho are relaxing after another stylish win. Talk turns from tactics to post World Cup plans.

“It’ll be one party after another,” says Hulk, confidently assuming Brazilian victory on home soil. “First the World Cup, then my birthday a couple of weeks later.”

“Your birthday’s in July?” replies Paulinho. “Me too – 25 July, when’s yours?

“No way, exactly the same day!” exclaims Hulk incredulously. “What are the chances of that?”

With 365 days in a regular year, most people’s intuitive answer would probably be: “Pretty small.”

But in this case our intuition is wrong – and the proof of that is known as the birthday paradox.

Hulk and Paulinho


Also read our earlier post on Understanding the Birthday Paradox!


Featured book:

The Math of Sports: Integrating Math in the Real World (Integrating Math in the Real World Series)