Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are there really lucky numbers?

According to Chinese numerology, some numbers are considered lucky, and some unlucky. For example, the number "4" sounds like the Chinese word for "death", and is considered to be highly unlucky. "8", on the other hand, sounds like "wealth", so it is considered to be one of the luckiest numbers.

Such beliefs affect our actions in a tangible manner. When giving "red packets" of money to friends and relatives, for example as a gift during a wedding, it is considered rude to give amounts like $144. On the other hand, amounts like $128 and $188, are favoured, so it is good to keep some change handy.

Are such numbers really lucky? How can we test it out?

A popular lottery in Singapore, titled "4D numbers", involves buying a lottery ticket comprising of 4 numbers of your choice. Every week, 39 number combinations are picked at random, and if you've the right numbers in the correct order you win some cash. Hence, my hypothesis is that if there are really lucky numbers, they would come out more often. Otherwise, we would see a random draw, and numbers don't have meaning beyond being, well, numbers.

In this test, I took the all-time top 100 4D number combinations from the Singapore Pools website. I then counted the times the numbers 1s, 2s,..., 0s appear. For example, "8787", the 7th top combination, gets you two 8s and two 7s.

The results are shown in the chart below. "6" appears the least, at only 28 times (interestingly, "6" is also a lucky number). The most common number is '2", but our unlucky "4" is not too far behind at 3rd place. In any case, the frequencies are clustered too tightly around the mean of 40 to be considered "statistically higher or lower" than the average - no particular number seems to appear more or less often than the others.

In simpler language, lucky numbers won't get you winning lottery tickets!

No comments:

Post a Comment