The Girl Named Florida

The Girl Named Florida

In The Drunkard’s Walk, Leonard Mlodinow presents “The Girl Named Florida Problem”:

“In a family with two children, what are the chances, if [at least] one of the children is a girl named Florida, that both children are girls?”

I added “at least” to Mlodinow’s statement of the problem to avoid a subtle ambiguity.

I wrote about this problem in a previous article from 2011. As you can see in the comments, my explanation was not met with universal acclaim.

This time, I want to take a different approach.

First, to avoid some real-world complications, let’s assume that this question takes place in an imaginary city called Statesville where:

  • Every family has two children.
  • 50% of children are male and 50% are female.
  • All children are named after U.S. states, and all state names are chosen with equal probability.
  • Genders and names within each family are chosen independently.

Second, rather than solve it mathematically, I’ll demonstrate it computationally:

Either way, I hope you enjoy getting your head around this problem.

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