April 10, 2012

In the previous exercise we had one of the simulations from A. K. Dewdney’s Five Easy Pieces, and today we have another. You’ve all seen a Galton board, invented by the Victorian statistician Sir Francis Galton; a series of pegs is arranged in diagonal columns at the top, a marble is dropped into the center of the top row, and it falls through the rows, moving left or right at each peg, until it drops into a bin at the bottom of the board, one bin under each gap in the final row of pegs. Each individual marble can go left or right at each peg with equal probability, but the overall effect after several marbles are dropped is to form a bell-shaped curve in the bins at the bottom.

Your task is to write a program to simulate a Galton board, showing the bell-shaped distribution in a histogram. When you are finished you are welcome to read or run a suggested solution, or to post your own solution or discuss the exercise in the comments below.

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