Difference Between Probability and Chance

Probability vs Chance

The two terms probability and chance are closely related and thus many get confused with these words. Chance is a word that is commonly used in everyday life situation, mostly in games of luck where chances of a particular event taking place are discussed. A student may have very good or bright chance of clearing an exam or a boxer may have very slim chance to beat his opponent in a bout. When a weak team is playing a game of basketball against a very strong team, we say that it has only an outside chance to beat the stronger team or that it has absolutely no chance of winning. So it can be seen that chance is a term that describes the likelihood of an event taking place. Probability, on the other hand is a branch of mathematics that is capable of calculating the chance or likelihood of an event taking place in percentage terms. Probability has a scientific basis and if you have 10 likelihoods and you want to calculate the probability of 1 event taking place, it is said that its probability is 1/10 or the event has a 10% probability of taking place. Though the two terms chance and probability have extreme similarities, there are many differences between them which will be discussed in this article.

Probability as a separate field of study in mathematics originated from the study of games of chances. Tossing a coin, spinning a roulette wheel or rolling a dice are perfect examples of games of chances. It was in the seventeenth century that gamblers asked famous mathematician Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat to help them in knowing their chances of winning in these games. The chances of a baby being born being a boy or a girl are uncertain but since only two outcomes are possible, it can be said that the probability or chance of a baby being a boy or a girl are equal or 50%. In the case of dice being rolled chances of 5 turning up in a single roll of dice is 1/6 which is 16.66%.

Today help of probability is being taken in many fields such as finance, medicine, genetics, marketing, sociological surveys and even science to predict the outcome of an event. Exit polls in elections are the result of probability.

In brief:

• Chance is an everyday word used in a situation where we are talking about an event taking place whereas probability is a precise measurement of that chance

• Probability is a special branch of mathematics that helps people decide the percentage of likelihood of an event taking place whereas chances of an event taking place in daily life are merely opinions.