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The Gunfight at the OK Corral

by James T. Sandefur (Georgetown University)

This article originally appeared in:
Mathematics Magazine
February, 1989

Subject classification(s): Statistics and Probability | Probability | Stochastic Processes
Applicable Course(s): 3.8 Linear/Matrix Algebra | 7.2 Probability

This article uses a generalization of a three-way gunfight to motivate the construction and solution to a first order linear system of difference equations.  The method of undetermined coefficients is used to develop a general solution to the dynamical system.  Probabilities of the system converging to each final (absorbing) state are found.  According to the author, many mathematical models can be approached from the point of view of discrete dynamical systems.

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Capsule Course Topic(s):
Linear Algebra | Applications: Dynamical Systems
Linear Algebra | Application: Markov
Linear Algebra | Matrix Algebra
Probability | Stochastic Processes, Discrete Markov Chains
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