3.3 - Random Walks

HandsOn Activities:

SimuLabs:

4. One-Dimensional Random Walk

In the preceding
section we found that some predictability grows out of random coin flipping,
leading to a "bell-shaped'' bar graph of the results. Such a distribution
is also called the *normal * or * Gaussian * distribution (you will
encounter this distribution at many places in this site). This section carries
the idea further, relating random coin flipping to random motion. Random movement
is important for understanding the microscopic world in nature, because atoms
and molecules move randomly. How can we describe the random motion of molecules
in, say, a gas? Molecules are too small to see, so to help us think concretely
we replace a molecule with something we can see: a wandering ant. If a wandering
ant starts at a lamp post and takes steps of equal length along the street,
how far will it be from the lamp post after a certain number, say N, steps?
Though this question is seemingly trivial, it poses one of the most basic problems
in statistical science.

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