# NavList:

## A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

**Re: Still on LOP's**

**From:**Bill Noyce

**Date:**2002 Apr 19, 16:39 -0400

I've also been thinking about George's assertion that the cocked hat contains the tru position just 25% of the time, and, much to my surprise, I've convinced myself it's true. The key question, in my mind, was whether the observations could properly be considered as independent. Let's start with the case of two LOP's. I think if they cross at right angles, then we can all agree the observations are independent, and the true position is equally likely to lie in any of the four quadrants so defined. Now suppose, as Trevor has suggested, that the azimuths are nearly equal, so that the two LOP's define two skinny regions and two very wide regions. Intuitively, it seems that the true position ought to be more likely to be in a wide region than in a skinny one. But I don't think that's true. For concreteness, let's say both LOP's run nearly north-south. The first one is equally likely to be east of our true position, or west of it. Let's say it is east of our true position. Now we lay down the second LOP. It, too, is equally likely to be east of our position or west of it, since it has no "knowledge" of the previous observation. (However, it is likely to be west of *the other LOP* near out latitude, since we are assuming the other LOP is too far east. In this sense the relative positions of one LOP to the other is not independent of the error in one LOP. But the direction from one LOP to our true position *is* necessarily independent of the direction from the other LOP to our true position.) Therefore, the surprising fact is that our true position is just as likely to be in a skinny region as in a wide one. I can rationalize this by noting that the intersection skitters away off to the north or south as the two LOP's move east and west, so in a sense the area in the skinny region grows lengthwise to make up for its lack of width. It's still counterintuitive. Let's go back to the case that's easier to accept, with two LOP's crossing at right angles. Suppose one runs north-south and one runs east-west, so they define four quadrants: NE, NW, SW, and SE, and our true position is equally likely to appear in any quadrant. Now let's add a third LOP, running SE-to-NW. Like the others, it is equally likely to be on either side of our true position. Depending on where it falls with respect to the intersection of the other LOP's, it will define a cocked hat of some size in either the NE quadrant or the SW quadrant. If our position was in the SE quadrant or the NW quadrant, then the true position is clearly outside the cocked hat -- this accounts for 50% of the cases. If our position was in the NE quadrant, and the new LOP is equally likely to fall NE of us or SW of us, then half the time we'll be inside a cocked hat in the NE quadrant, and half the time we'll be outside the cocked hat (which may be in the NE quadrant or in the SW quadrant). This contributes 12.5% of cases inside the cocked hat, and 12.5% more outside. The same argument holds if we are in the SW quadrant, giving a total of 25% of cases where our true position was inside the cocked hat, and 75% where it was outside. This argument depends on the fact that whether the new LOP is NE or SW of *our true position* is independent of which quadrant we are in. There are some other things we might see that are *not* independent. For example, if we are in the NE quadrant, the new LOP is likely to fall NE of the intersection of the other LOP's. Equivalently, if we are in the NE quadrant, it is more likely that the cocked hat falls in the NE quadrant than that it falls in the SW quadrant. Renaming George's 8 possible outcomes, our true position could be N,E,NE; N,E,SW; N,W,NE; N,W,SW; S,E,NE; S,E,SW; S,W,NE; S,W,SW of the three LOP's. If it's N,E,SW or S,W,NE then our true position falls inside the cocked hat -- but one of these doesn't exist! Does that reduce the probability to 1/7 (or even 1/8)? No, because which one exists is not independent of our true position. The only thing that *is* independent is whether the new LOP is NE of us or SW of us.