A survey of the coupon collector's problem with random sample sizes

John E. Kobza, Sheldon H. Jacobson, Diane E. Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper surveys the coupon collector's waiting time problem with random sample sizes and equally likely balls. Consider an urn containing m red balls. For each draw, a random number of balls are removed from the urn. The group of removed balls is painted white and returned to the urn. Several approaches to addressing this problem are discussed, including a Markov chain approach to compute the distribution and expected value of the number of draws required for the urn to contain j white balls given that it currently contains i white balls. As a special case, E[N], the expected number of draws until all the balls are white given that all are currently red is also obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-584
Number of pages12
JournalMethodology and Computing in Applied Probability
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Coupon collector's problem
  • Markov chain
  • Transient analysis
  • Waiting times

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Mathematics(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A survey of the coupon collector's problem with random sample sizes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this