Revenge of the Nerds

Scene: The men’s locker room inside the PRO Sports Club fitness center about a mile from the Microsoft main campus. It is a Friday afternoon and I have just finished my workout. While getting dressed, I overhear the following conversation between a couple random nerd guys: RNG #1 & RNG #2.

RNG #1: “That’s bizarre. This isn’t my stuff. I just punched in my code to unlock this locker but these aren’t my jeans.”
RNG #2: “Huh?”
RNG #1: “Wait a second….” [a few seconds pass] “That isn’t my locker! This one is my locker. Here are my things.”
RNG #2: “What?”
RNG #1: [chuckling] “My locker is this one. It was just a random coincidence that the locker right next to it had the exact same four-digit code.”
RNG #2: [in disbelief] “Really?”
RNG #1: “Yeah! That’s so strange. What are the odds?”
RNG #2: “10 times 9 times 8 times 7, right?”
RNG #1: “Yeah, that sounds right.”
RNG #2: [after a short pause] “Actually, it’s 10 times 10 times 10 times 10 since you can repeat numbers.”
RNG #1: “Yeah, you’re right. Amazing.”

At this point, I didn’t know which was nerdier:

  1. Two genuine nerds calculating the 1-in-10,000 (0.01%) probability of a specific 4-digit locker code, or
  2. Two genuine nerds proving, when their kind congregates, there is a 100% possibility they will make their presence known.

They continued their nerd banter as I left the locker room. A few steps into my exit, I immediately felt ill as I realized I had immediately done the math too when RNG #1 dismissed it as a random coincidence.

I’m not a nerd. I’m cerebral. :sweet:

2 Replies to “Revenge of the Nerds”

  1. While we’re being “cerebral” ;-), I feel compelled to point out that I think the calculation isn’t quite right. You not only need to calculate the probability somebody picking the same combination, you also need to factor in the probability that this person chooses the locker right next to yours, so I think the probability is something like 1/(10^4) * (2/number of lockers), if there is a locker on either side of yours.

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