Engineering Applications - The Laws of Chance and Their Application in "The Assessment of Probability"

Posted By Tom Feltham on 01 May 2014

Posted in The Vintage Machinery Almanac

In a lecture to the Royal Scottish Society of Arts in Edinburgh recently, on "An Introduction to Some Engineering Applications of the Laws of Chance," Mr. P. D.E. Stowell said that the majority of people were inclined to suggest there could be no laws of chance, because if there were laws, it wouldn't be chance.

The Supply of Electricity

The laws of chance, he explained, were not applicable to individual occurrences, but only to large numbers of similar events taken collectively. The assessment of probability had an important bearing on public supply engineering. It appeared that under normal conditions of supply of electricity, the addition of 100 water heaters might only result in an increase of load equal to the combined requirements of 10 such units. That followed from a direct application of the laws of chance.

Telephone Engineering

In telephone engineering, where vast numbers of subscribers and calls were concerned, the laws of chance could be applied with rigid accuracy, and it could be shown that the apparatus and lines required were only a minute fraction of the installation necessary for everyone to call everyone simultaneously.