The National Lottery

As of the 23rd May 2022 this website is archived and will receive no further updates.

was produced by the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk based in the Statistical Laboratory in the University of Cambridge. The aim was to help improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining.

Many of the animations were produced using Flash and will no longer work.

LotteryThe UK National Lottery began on 19th November 1994 and there had been 1242 draws up to 20th October 2007. The jackpot prize is won by choosing in advance the 6 numbers drawn from a set of balls numbered from 1 to 49. We can use the whole history of the lottery to illustrate many aspects of the theory of probability: how each draw is individually unpredictable, and yet the overall history shows predictable patterns; how a `league table' of numbers can be created that appears to show some numbers are preferentially drawn, and yet the table is completely spurious; how to test whether the balls are truly being drawn at random; how extremely unlikely events will occur if you wait long enough, and so on.

See National Lottery statistics for popular reports on the 'most picked' and 'least picked', and 'most overdue' numbers.

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