MH 370 & the Bayes theory


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The search for the Malaysian passenger flight MH370 seems to go on without any conclusive end. Many continue to say that it could be due to reasons which look plausible But none seem to hold. However if Bayes Theory of Probability if concertedly applied in the search with impunity and trust, the answer may result. This presentation attempts to assert this belief of the author.

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MH 370 & the Bayes theory

  1. 1. Flight MH370 & The Bayes Theory By Masilamani Ramasamy Leadership & Scientific Management Consultant (
  2. 2. MH370
  3. 3. Bayes' Theorem • also called, Bayes' law or Bayes' rule • based on probability theory, mathematics and Statistics • named after Thomas Bayes (/ˈbeɪz/; 1701–1761) • Bayes suggested the theorem to update beliefs • Significantly edited and updated by Richard Price • Bayes' theorem “is to the theory of probability what Pythagoras's theorem is to geometry” -Harold Jeffreys
  4. 4. probability theory rooted in, • the science of Statistics • the science of Mathematics • the probability of an event occurring • the analysis of random phenomena
  5. 5. statistical theory gives, – ways of comparing statistical procedures – a best possible procedure for statistical problems – guidance on the choice between alternative procedures Passenger Identities China/Taiwan 154 Malaysia 38 India 5 Indonesia 7 Australia 6 France 4 USA 3 New Zealand 2 Ukraine 2 Canada 2 Russia 1 Italy 1 Netherlands 1 Austria 1
  6. 6. statistical theory covers – Statistical decision methods and problems – Statistical inferences or conclusions – actions and deductions To satisfy the basic principles stated for these different approaches. Statistics(facts) Aircraft: Malaysian Air Lines Aircraft Age: 11years 10 months Aircraft Type: Boeing 777 ER Flight No: MH370(shared with China Southern Airlines) Passengers travelled: 227 Crew Travelled: 12 Nationalities: 14 Take Off Time: 12.41 am From: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia To: Beijing, China
  7. 7. Statistics • is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation and presentation of information or data • all aspects of data including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments are used
  8. 8. mathematical roots • Two mathematical results of Bayes Theorem are, –THE LAW OF LARGE NUMBERS, and –THE CENTRAL LIMIT THEOREM
  9. 9. law of large numbers (LLN) • Is a theorem • describes the result of performing the same experiment a large number of times • thus the average of results obtained should be close to the expected value, and • The result will tend to become closer to reality
  10. 10. central limit theorem (CLT) • the arithmetic mean of a sufficiently large number of iterates of independent random variables, each with a well-defined expected value and well-defined variance, will be approximately normally distributed • This will probably lead to a conclusion of the reality
  11. 11. normal distribution • suppose – sample contains a large number of observations, – each observation being randomly generated, – in a way that does not depend on the values of the other observations – that the arithmetic average of the observed values is computed, – and if this procedure is performed many times, – then central limit theorem says the computed values of the average will be a “normal distribution“ – The normal distribution is commonly known as a "bell curve"
  12. 12. bayes' theorem is, • a result that is of importance in the mathematical manipulation of conditional probabilities • It is a result that derives from the more basic axioms of probability • It is a result that can lead to realistic conclusions
  13. 13. axioms of probability probability is, • a game of chance • measures the real, physical tendency of something to occur • Measures how strongly one believes it will occur • draws on both these elements? • interprets the probability values of probability theory to answer the above questions
  14. 14. EVENT or OCCURENCE NON-RANDOM EVENT RANDOM EVENT Weather Seasonal change, Local climate precipitation, temperature on specific days Car accidents Safe or unsafe driving practices specific cars or conditions met on the road Customers at mall Hours open, time of the day specific pattern of customer arrival State lottery Decision about games available, prices & awards numbers drawn or winning patterns on tickets Plain crash Ability of flight captains, security measures Plane engine failure, terrerists intrusion Student grades Amount of study, revision and class preparation appearance of specific questions on tests Real Life Probability
  15. 15. why MH370 flight missing? • Its loss is a mystery • Many theories, probabilities and interpretations still remain • Inconclusive, inadequate and intriguing • Probably Bayes Theoretical approach would help • Scientists tend to believe in this Theory as a probably lead to discovery of the missing plane
  16. 16. the theory that would not die • “It’s a very short, simple equation that says you can start out with hypothesis about something - and it doesn’t matter how good the hypothesis is,” • - Sharon Bertsch McGrayne
  17. 17. how because of, • this character of the formula • forcing researchers to change their hypothesis with each new information • that the probability becomes more accurate
  18. 18. the proof • Bayes’ Theorem “allows the organisation of available data with associated uncertainties and computation of the PDF • Scientists applied Bayes’ Theorem in the Air France incident of 2009 • French scientist Pierre Simon Laplace, helped locate German U-boats during World War II and spot Soviet submarines during the Cold War • More recently, it is used in Google's "driverless cars" project and in stock market predictions • PDF or the probability distribution function, identified the target location given these data".
  19. 19. Why Not? • Advocates of this theory said it was also used in the search for the black box of the ill-fated Air France flight 447, which crashed in the vast Atlantic Ocean in June 2009. • What took two years for other experts in the search for the black box, took only five days for consultants who applied the Bayes’ Theorem, to finally find the device 12,000 feet under water. • In the current search for flight MH370, it is “highly unlikely” that Bayes’ Theorem is being applied. black box
  20. 20. Inconclusive Theories about MH 370 • Sudden shut down of all flight systems • Smoke or fire alarm • Sabotage by suspects • Hijackers on board • ‘Undesirable clients’ in the cockpit • Deep dive into ocean bed • Disgruntled or insane flight officer • Ill equipped management and security systems • Incapable flight officers • Etc., etc., etc…..
  21. 21. learn from experience • Bayes' Theorem, –is all about learning from experience –one would need "reasonably accurate past experiences" for the theorem to work –in other words, to calculate accurately to locate the plane
  22. 22. find the plane • go find the plane, with science in your bag, enough of spiritual beliefs, emotional reasoning and traditional methods
  23. 23. Thanks • Malaysian Airlines • Wikipedia • Malaysiakini • • Professionals