1. Suppose you have an urn with blue and red balls. If balls are selected at random with replacement (you put the ball back after you pick it), we can denote the outcomes as random variables that are 1 or 0. If the proportion of red balls is , then the distribution of each of these is .

    These are also called Bernoulli trials. These random variables are independent because we replace the balls. Flipping a coin is an example of this with .

    You can show that the mean and variance are and respectively. The binomial distribution gives us the distribution of the sum of these random variables. The probability that we see red balls is given by:

    In R, the function dbimom gives you this result. The function pbinom gives us .

    This equation has many uses in the life sciences. We give some examples below.

    The probability of conceiving a girl is 0.49. What is the probability that a family with 4 children has 2 girls and 2 boys (you can assume that the outcomes are independent)?

  2. Use what you learned in Question 1 to answer these questions:

    What is the probability that a family with 10 children has 6 girls and 4 boys (assume no twins)?

  3. The genome has 3 billion bases. About 20% are C, 20% are G, 30% are T, and 30% are A. Suppose you take a random interval of 20 bases, what is the probability that the GC-content (proportion of Gs of Cs) is strictly above 0.5 in this interval?

  4. The probability of winning the lottery is 1 in 175,223,510. If 20,000,000 people buy a ticket, what is the probability that more than one person wins?

  5. We can show that the binomial approximation is approximately normal when is large and is not too close to 0 or 1. This means that:

    is approximately normal with mean 0 and SD 1. Using the results for sums of independent random variables, we can show that and .

    The genome has 3 billion bases. About 20% are C, 20% are G, 30% are T, and 30% are A. Suppose you take a random interval of 20 bases, what is the exact probability that the GC-content (proportion of Gs of Cs) is greater than 0.35 and smaller or equal to 0.45 in this interval?

  6. For the question above, what is the normal approximation to the probability?

  7. Repeat exercise 4, but using an interval of 1000 bases. What is the difference (in absolute value) between the normal approximation and the exact distribution of the GC-content being greater than 0.35 and lesser or equal to 0.45?

  8. The Cs in our genomes can be methylated or unmethylated. Suppose we have a large (millions) group of cells in which a proportion of the Cs of interest are methylated. We break up the DNA of these cells and randomly select pieces and end up with pieces that contain the C we care about. This means that the probability of seeing methylated Cs is binomial:

     exact = dbinom(k,N,p)

    We can approximate this with the normal distribution:

     a <- (k+0.5 - N*p)/sqrt(N*p*(1-p))
     b <- (k-0.5 - N*p)/sqrt(N*p*(1-p))
     approx = pnorm(a) - pnorm(b)

    Compute the difference approx - exact for:

     N <- c(5,10,50,100,500)
     p <- seq(0,1,0.25)

    Compare the approximation and exact probability of the proportion of Cs being , plotting the exact versus the approximation for each and combination.

    • A) The normal approximation works well when is close to 0.5 even for small
    • B) The normal approximation breaks down when is close to 0 or 1 even for large
    • C) When is 100 all approximations are spot on.
    • D) When the approximation are terrible for and only OK for
  9. We saw in the previous question that when is very small, the normal approximation breaks down. If is very large, then we can use the Poisson approximation.

    Earlier we computed 1 or more people winning the lottery when the probability of winning was 1 in 175,223,510 and 20,000,000 people bought a ticket. Using the binomial, we can compute the probability of exactly two people winning to be:

     N <- 20000000
     p <- 1/175223510

    If we were to use the normal approximation, we would greatly underestimate this:

     a <- (2+0.5 - N*p)/sqrt(N*p*(1-p))
     b <- (2-0.5 - N*p)/sqrt(N*p*(1-p))
     pnorm(a) - pnorm(b)

    To use the Poisson approximation here, use the rate representing the number of people per 20,000,000 that win the lottery. Note how much better the approximation is:


    In this case. it is practically the same because is very large and is not 0. These are the assumptions needed for the Poisson to work. What is the Poisson approximation for more than one person winning?

  10. Now we are going to explore if palindromes are over-represented in some part of the HCMV genome. Make sure you have the latest version of the dagdata, load the palindrome data from the Human cytomegalovirus genome, and plot locations of palindromes on the genome for this virus:


    These palindromes are quite rare, and therefore is very small. If we break the genome into bins of 4000 basepairs, then we have not so small and we might be able to use Poisson to model the number of palindromes in each bin:


    So if our model is correct, counts should follow a Poisson distribution. The distribution seems about right:


    So let be the random variables representing counts then and to fully describe this distribution, we need to know . For this we will use MLE. We can write the likelihood described in book in R. For example, for we have:

    probs <- dpois(counts,4)
    likelihood <- prod(probs)

    Notice that it’s a tiny number. It is usually more convenient to compute log-likelihoods:

    logprobs <- dpois(counts,4,log=TRUE)
    loglikelihood <- sum(logprobs)

    Now write a function that takes and the vector of counts as input and returns the log-likelihood. Compute this log-likelihood for lambdas = seq(0,15,len=300) and make a plot. What value of lambdas maximizes the log-likelihood?

  11. The point of collecting this dataset was to try to determine if there is a region of the genome that has a higher palindrome rate than expected. We can create a plot and see the counts per location:


    What is the center of the bin with the highest count?

  12. What is the maximum count?

  13. Once we have identified the location with the largest palindrome count, we want to know if we could see a value this big by chance. If is a Poisson random variable with rate:

    lambda = mean(counts[ - which.max(counts) ])

    What is the probability of seeing a count of 14 or more?

  14. So we obtain a p-value smaller than 0.001 for a count of 14. Why is it problematic to report this p-value as strong evidence of a location that is different?
    • A) Poisson in only an approximation.
    • B) We selected the highest region out of 57 and need to adjust for multiple testing.
    • C) is an estimate, a random variable, and we didn’t take into account its variability.
    • D) We don’t know the effect size.
  15. Use the Bonferonni correction to determine the p-value cut-off that guarantees a FWER of 0.05. What is this p-value cutoff?

  16. Create a qq-plot to see if our Poisson model is a good fit:

    ps <- (seq(along=counts) - 0.5)/length(counts)
    lambda <- mean( counts[ -which.max(counts)])
    poisq <- qpois(ps,lambda)

    How would you characterize this qq-plot

    • A) Poisson is a terrible approximation.
    • B) Poisson is a very good approximation except for one point that we actually think is a region of interest.
    • C) There are too many 1s in the data.
    • D) A normal distribution provides a better approximation.
  17. Load the tissuesGeneExpression data library


    Now load this data and select the columns related to endometrium:

    y = e[,which(tissue=="endometrium")]

    This will give you a matrix y with 15 samples. Compute the across sample variance for the first three samples. Then make a qq-plot to see if the data follow a normal distribution. Which of the following is true?

    • A) With the exception of a handful of outliers, the data follow a normal distribution.
    • B) The variance does not follow a normal distribution, but taking the square root fixes this.
    • C) The normal distribution is not usable here: the left tail is over estimated and the right tail is underestimated.
    • D) The normal distribution fits the data almost perfectly.
  18. Now fit an F-distribution with 14 degrees of freedom using the fitFDist function in the limma package:

  19. Now create a qq-plot of the observed sample variances versus the F-distribution quantiles. Which of the following best describes the qq-plot?

    • A) The fitted F-distribution provides a perfect fit.
    • B) If we exclude the lowest 0.1% of the data, the F-distribution provides a good fit.
    • C) The normal distribution provided a better fit.
    • D) If we exclude the highest 0.1% of the data, the F-distribution provides a good fit.