# 3 Multiple Discrete Random Variables

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1 3 Multiple Discrete Random Variables 3.1 Joint densities Suppose we have a probability space (Ω, F,P) and now we have two discrete random variables X and Y on it. They have probability mass functions f X (x) and f Y (y). However, knowing these two functions is not enough. We illustrate this with an example. Example: We flip a fair coin twice and define several RV s: Let X 1 be the number of heads on the first flip. (So X 1 = 0, 1.) Let X 2 be the number of heads on the second flip. Let Y = 1 X 1. All three RV s have the same p.m.f. : f(0) = 1/2, f(1) = 1/2. So if we only look at p.m.f. s of individual RV s, the pair X 1, X 2 looks just like the pair X 1, Y. But these pairs are very different. For example, with the pair X 1, Y, if we know the value of X 1 then the value of Y is determined. But for the pair X 1, X 2, knowning the value of X 1 tells us nothing about X 2. Later we will define independence for RV s and see that X 1, X 2 are an example of a pair of independent RV s. We need to encode information from P about what our random variables do together, so we introduce the following object. Definition 1. If X and Y are discrete RV s, their joint probability mass function is f(x, y) = P(X = x, Y = y) As always, the comma in the event X = x, Y = y means and. We will also write this as f X,Y (x, y) when we need to indicate the RV s we are talking about. This generalizes to more than two RV s: Definition 2. If X 1, X 2,, X n are discrete RV s, then their joint probability mass function is f X1,X 2,,X n (x 1, x 2,, x n ) = P(X 1 = x 1, X 2 = x 2,, X n = x n ) The joint density for n RV s is a function on R n. Obviously, it is a nonnegative function. It is non-zero only on a finite or countable set of points in R n. If we sum it over these points we get 1: x 1,,x n f X1,X 2,,X n (x 1, x 2,, x n ) = 1 1

2 We return to the example we started with. Example - cont. The joint pmf of X 1, X 2 is f X1,X 2 (0, 0) = f X1,X 2 (0, 1) = f X1,X 2 (1, 0) = f X1,X 2 (1, 1) = 1/4 and that of X 1, Y is f X1,Y (0, 1) = f X1,Y (1, 0) = 1/2, f X1,Y (0, 0) = f X1,Y (1, 1) = 0 As with one RV, the goal of introducing the joint pmf is to extract all the information in the probability measure P that is relevant to the RV s we are considering. So we should be able to compute the probability of any event defined just in terms of the RV s using only their joint pmf. Consider two RV s X, Y. Here are some events defined in terms of them: {0 X 10, Y 5}, {0 X + Y 10}, or {XY 3} We can write any such event as {(X, Y ) A} where A R 2. For example, {0 X 10, Y 5} = {(X, Y ) A}, where A is the rectangle A = {(x, y) : 0 x 10, y 5}. And {0 X + Y 10} = {(X, Y ) A}, A = {(x, y) : 0 x + y 10} The following proposition tells us how to compute probabilities of events like these. Proposition 1. If X 1, X 2,, X n are discrete RV s and A R n, then P((X 1, X 2,, X n ) A) = f X1,X 2,,X n (x 1, x 2,, x n ) (x 1,x 2,,x n) A There are some important special cases of the proposition which we state as corollaries. Corollary 1. Let g(x, y) : R 2 R. Let X, Y be discrete RV s. Define a new discrete RV by Z = g(x, Y ). Then its pmf is f Z (z) = f X,Y (x, y) (x,y):g(x,y)=z 2

3 When we have the joint pmf of X, Y, we can use it to find the pmf s of X and Y by themselves, i.e., f X (x) and f Y (y). These are called marginal pmf s. The formula for computing them is : Corollary 2. Let X, Y be two discrete RV s. Then f X (x) = y f Y (y) = x f X,Y (x, y) f X,Y (x, y) Example: Flip a fair coin. Let X = 0, 1 be number of heads. If coin is heads roll a four-sided die, if tails a six-sided die. Let Y be the number on the die. Find the joint pmf of X, Y, and the individual pmf s of X and Y. Example: Roll a die until we get a 6. Let Y be the number of rolls (including the 6). Let X be the number of 1 s we got before we got 6. Find f X,Y, f X, f Y. It is hard to figure out P(X = x, Y = y) directly. But if we are given the value of Y, say Y = y, then X is just a binomial RV with y 1 trials and p = 1/5. So we have ( y 1 P(X = x Y = y) = x ) ( 1 5 ) x ( ) y 1 x 4 5 We then use P(X = x, Y = y) = P(X = x Y = y)p(y = y). The RV Y has a geometric distribution with parameter 1/6. Note that P(X = x Y = y) = 0 if x y. So we get { ( y 1 )( 1 ) x ( 4 ) y 1 x ( 5 ) y 1 1 f X,Y (x, y) =, if x < y x , if x y 3.2 Functions of two RV s Suppose X and Y are discrete random variables and g(x, y) is a function from R 2 to R. Then Z = g(x, Y ) defines a new random variable. We saw in the last section how to compute its pmf from the joint pmf of X and Y : P(Z = z) = P(g(X, Y ) = z) = f X,Y (x, y) (x,y):g(x,y)=z There is a shortcut for computing its expected value: 3

5 What is E[X j ]. We claim that the distribution of X j is just a geometric distribution with parameter p. So E[X j ] = 1/p. Thus E[x] = n/p. To appreciate how much easier this approach is, the reader is invited to compute the mean of X using the pmf of X. 3.3 Independence of discrete RV s Recall the definition of independence for events. Two events A and B are independent if P(A B) = P(A)P(B). We will now define independence of RV s. As we will see, if two RV s X and Y are independent then if we define some event using X and another event using Y, then these two events will be independent. However, the definition is a bit simpler. Definition 3. Two discrete RV s X and Y are independent if P(X = x, Y = y) = P(X = x)p(y = y), f X,Y (x, y) = f X (x) f Y (y), Discrete RV s X 1, X 2,, X n are independent if x, y R x, y R, i.e., f X1,X 2,,X n (x 1, x 2,, x n ) = n f Xi (x i ), i=1 x 1,, x n R Remark: In general, knowing the individual pmf s of X and Y, i.e., f X (x) and f Y (y), is not enough to determine the joint pmf of X and Y. But if we also know that the two RV s are independent, then f X (x) and f Y (y) completely determine the joint pmf. We will often encounter situtations like this: you know X and Y are independent and you know that X has say a Poisson distribution and Y has a binomial distribution. This determines the joint pmf for X and Y. One of the most important properties of independent RV s is the following. Theorem 2. Let X and Y be discrete RV s. Assume that their expected values are defined and the expected value of XY is too. Then E[XY ] = E[X]E[Y ] 5

6 Proof. E[XY ] = xy f X,Y (x, y) = xy f X (x) f Y (y) x,y x,y [ ] [ ] = xf X (x) y f Y (y) = E[X]E[Y ] x y The next proposition says that if X and Y are independent and we use X to define some event and Y to define some other event, then these two events are independent. Proposition 2. Let X and Y be independent discrete RV s. Let A, B R. Then the events X A and Y B are independent events. Theorem 3. Let X and Y be independent discrete RV s. Let g, h be functions from R to R. Then g(x) and h(y ) are independent RV s. Consequently, Proof.?????? E[g(X)h(Y )] = E[g(X)]E[h(Y )] Suppose we know the joint pmf f X,Y (x, y) but we don t know the individual pmf s f X (x) and f Y (y). Can we check if X and Y are independent? We could compute f X (x) and f Y (y) from the joint pmf and then check if f X,Y (x, y) = f X (x)f Y (y). But there is a shortcut: Proposition 3. If f X,Y (x, y) can be factored as g(x)h(y) for some functions g and h, then X and Y are independent. Caution: Watch out for joint pmf s that look like they factor, but actually don t because of cases involved in the def of the joint pmf. The following example illustrates this. Example We look at an example we have seen before. We roll a die till we get a 6. Let Y be the number of rolls it takes including the 6. Let X be the number of 1 s we get before we get the 6. Are X and Y independent? Example: Let X and Y be independent RV s. X has a binomial distribution with n trials and probability p of success. Y also has a binomial distribution 6

7 with the same probability p of success, but a different number of trials, say m. Argue that Z = X + Y is binomial with probability of success p and n + m trials. Give heuristic explanation and then show what the calculation would be. Caution: In general it is not true that if we add two independent RV s with the same type of distribution we get back the same distribution. Example: Let X and Y be independent RV s with the geometric distribution with parameters p and q respectively. Let Z = X + Y. Show that Z does not have a geometric distribution. Example: Let X and Y be independent RV s with the geometric distribution with parameters p and q respectively. Let Z = min{x, Y }. Find the pmf of Z. If we try to compute it directly we get stuck: P(Z = z) = P(min X, Y = z) = We use a trick. Look at P(Z z). We have P(Z z) = P(minX, Y z) = P(X z, Y z) = (1 p) z 1 (1 q) z 1 = [(1 p)(1 q)] z 1 So Z has a geometric distribution. Call the parameter for it r. Then 1 r = (1 p)(1 q), i.e., r = 1 (1 p)(1 q). GAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! heuristic explanation Recall that for any two random variables E[X + Y ] = E[X] + E[Y ], i.e., the mean of their sum is the sum of their means. In general the variance of their sum is not the sum of their variances. But if they are independent it is! Theorem 4. If X and Y are independent discrete RV s then var(x + Y ) = var(x) + var(y ), provided the variances of X and Y are defined. Proof. The proof is a computation that uses two facts. For any RV, var(x) = E[X 2 ] E[X] 2. And since X and Y are independent, E[XY ] = E[X]E[Y ]. So var(x + Y ) = E[(X + Y ) 2 ] (E[X + Y ]) 2 = E[X 2 + 2XY + Y 2 ] (E[X] + E[Y ]) 2 = E[X 2 ] + 2E[XY ] + E[Y 2 ] ( E[X] 2 + 2E[X]E[Y ] + E[Y ] 2) = E[X 2 ] + 2E[X]E[Y ] + E[Y 2 ] ( E[X] 2 + 2E[X]E[Y ] + E[Y ] 2) = E[X 2 ] E[X] 2 + E[Y 2 ] E[Y ] 2 = var(x) + var(y ) 7

8 Why do we care about independence? The following paradigm occurs often, expecially in statistics. Sampling paradigm: We have an experiment with a random variable X. We do the experiment n times. Let X 1, X 2,, X n be the resulting values of X. We assume the repetitions of the experiment do not change the experiment and they are independent. So the distribution of each X j the same as that of X and X 1, X 2,, X n are independent. So the joint pmf is f X1,X 2,,X n (x 1, x 2,, x n ) = n f X (x j ) The RV s X 1, X 2,, X n are called i.i.d. (independent, identically distributed). We are often interested in the sample mean X = 1 n X j It is a RV. We can find its mean and variance. The mean of X is E[ X] = E[ 1 n X j ] = 1 n E[X j ] = 1 n E[X] = E[X] Since the X j are independent, the variance of X 1 + X 2 + X n is the sum of their variances. Since they are identically distributed they have the same variance. In fact, the variance of X j is the variance of X. So the variance of X 1 + X 2 + X n is n var(x). Thus var( X) = 1 n 2n var(x) = 1 n var(x) So if n is large, the variance of the sample average is much smaller than that of the random variable X. 8

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