Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dr Maths

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dr Maths

Article excerpt

DEAR Dr MATHS, We are currently being inundated with statistics about England's football team from newspapers and television.

Can maths really be used to predict football results? Dave, via email In the 12 World Cup tournaments that England have played in since 1950 their average finishing position is sixth.

As we all know they have only won once, in the famous 1966 World Cup. See Picture 1. These results give an average of 1.35 goals per match scored by England, and 0.85 goals per match scored against them.

Mathematics cannot say for certain what the future will be, but it can suggest possible outcomes that could occur, giving the probability that these may happen.

Predictions about how many goals could be scored in a match can be created by using the work of the 19th Century mathematician Simeon Poisson.

The theory allows you to predict events which at first glance seem to be random or have little pattern. It is used, for example, to help work out how many staff will be needed to work in a call centre at particular times in the day, or similarly to predict the size of queues at supermarket checkouts. …

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