Recall that the **moment-generating function** for a random variable X is the function E[e^{αX}] of α, which is equal to ∑ E[X^{k}]α^{k}/k!. Here we describe a random variable 2^{X} for which the moment-generating function is not defined for all α.

Suppose you start with $1. I repeatedly flip a fair coin. If it comes up heads, I double your money. If it comes up tails, I send you way with whatever you've got so far. If X is the number of times I get heads, then the money you get is 2^{X} = e^{X ln 2}, and your expected return is E[e^{X ln 2}]. But if we just add up all the cases, you get $1 with probability 1/2, $2 with probability 1/4, $4 with probability 1/8, etc. giving a total of 1/2+1/2+1/2+..., which diverges. So there is no expectation for 2^{X} and thus no value for E[e^{X ln 2}].

This doesn't mean that the distribution of X has no moment-generating function. For smaller α we can calculate E[e^{αX}] = = = (provided e^{α}/2 < 1). So we get a moment-generating function that, like many other GeneratingFunctions, happens to have a bounded radius of convergence.

Curiously, in the original game, the likelihood that you leave with 2^{n} or more dollars is bounded by 2⋅2^{-n}, which is suspiciously similar to the bound from Markov's inequality for a variable with expectation 2. This demonstrates that Markov's inequality *is not reversible*: knowing that Pr[X ≥ α] ≤ m/α says *nothing* about EX.