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# Is Random Really Random?

04/24/2012 8:13 PM

I was working on ma cpp...classes...and was unable to find an algorithm for random function...... how can we program a function without an algorithm......

do any one realy know an algorithm for random function...(i believe there is no algorithm for randomisation)

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#1

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/24/2012 8:56 PM
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#2

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/24/2012 9:01 PM

how can randomisation have an algorithm........if it haas one then it will not be random any more.............

will it be?

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#3

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/24/2012 9:12 PM

if you use it with srand() it will generate a random number.

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#4

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/24/2012 9:33 PM

A pseudo-random number!

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#14

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 12:02 PM

Exactly. No deterministic process can generate truly random numbers.

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#5

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/24/2012 11:02 PM

There is no random number algorithm...The closest you can come is to have several pseudo-random generators in parallel with one master selecting a pseudo-random number generator from the group of generators...You can keep goin' like that and the number becomes fairly random with several groups of generators selecting from yet another group and so on....

pseudo-random algorithm...

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#40

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/27/2012 4:22 PM

Along with pseudo random generation methods there is a well known (I think it was Shannon who thought of this) method of taking poor quality random sequences and making them better "quality".

Here by "quality" I mean more evenly balanced or having a lessor bias, for instance if you have a random generator of binary digits and it has some form of bias then its a poor quality generator - but you can improve on it (but also diminish the quantity of bits it produces)

For instance lets say your "coin tossing" mechanism has a slight bias "e" so it produces 1's and 0's not at Probabilities of 0.5 each but with Pone = 0.5 + e and Pzero = 0.5 - e

We have to presume that "e" is small (it should be or the generator is rubbish to begin with) say its of the order of 0.001 for instance Pone = 0.501 and Pzero = 0.499

Now you generate a sequence with this poor quality generator getting a string of bits for instance 0010010111010001010000111111... etc

If you examine the bits in pairs and make a decision to throw away those pairs that are the same bit value (throw away 00,11) but make the others into a single bit (01 is replaced by 1 and 10 is replaced by 0 say) the new string has a far lower bias (has improved quality).

the math is instructive and simple....

the probability of each of the four possible two binary digit sequences are given by the products of the single binary digits that make them :-

P00 = Pzero * Pzero

P01 = P10 = Pzero*Pone (cause we have commutable multiplication in probabilities)

P11 = Pone * Pone

so... P00 = (0.5 - e ) * ( 0.5 - e) = (0.5 - e)^2

P00 = (0.5 - 0.001)^2 = 0.499 ^2 ) for our example P00 = 0.249001 (with 0.25 being ideal)

Similarly P11

P11 = (0.5 +e)^2 or (0.5001^2)= P11 = 0.251001

But P01 = P10 = (0.5 - e) * (0.5 + e) = 0.25 - e^2 = 0.25 - 0.000001 = 0.249999

...here the value is below the ideal 0.25 by e squared (0.001^2 = 0.000001) AND its the same for then newly calculated 1 or 0 - their relative bias is nil

00 will show up with probability of P00 = 0.249001

01 will show up with probability of P01 = 0.249999

10 will show up with probability of P10 = 0.249999

11 will show up with probability of P11 = 0.251001

totaling 1.00000 :-)

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#6

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/25/2012 9:44 AM

so thats what all i wanted thanks a lot for giving a fullstop to my long search

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#7

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/25/2012 6:34 PM

It is an interesting sidelight that it is impossible to examine a sequence and decide whether it is random or not. For instance:

3383279502884197169399375

could have been randomly generated but I borrowed it from within a 100 digit rendering of Pi.

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#15

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 12:10 PM

Pi also contains the sequence '3333333333333333333'. An infinite number of them in fact, and in sequence! Not only, Pi contains the sequence of all ASCII codes corresponding exactly to the contents of this entire website (and every other website), the entire Library of Congress and every novel* which has yet to be written.

Amazing. ;-)

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* Wish I could tell by looking at the digits which ones will be blockbusters and plagiarize them. :)

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#17

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 2:20 PM

When taking tests like SATs, I used to have an ongoing internal argument with the test designers. The question would be "What is the next number in this sequence: 2, 3, 5, 8, 13?

I'd answer (to this imagined test designer) any or several of the following:

"Whatever TF you want it to be!"

or

"3! And tell me why that's not right, dammit."

or

"Certainly, you're not looking for the obvious one?? Are you testing only for the ability to think inside the box?"

The best answer, by far to the question "How would you use a barometer to measure the height of a tall building?" is the one that usually shows up last in the story: "Find the building superintendent, and offer to give him the barometer if he tells you the height of the building."

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#18

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 2:26 PM

Let's do lunch sometime!

I needed that. Thanks!

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#20

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 2:50 PM

You are quite welcome.

When working on my lathe, I often want to measure the diameter of the workpiece. I take a piece of string and wrap it around, and then stretch the string out on a ruler, giving me the circumference. To get the diameter really precise, I need a lot of digits in Pi, of course. I use this mneMONic* device: "How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy chapters involving quantum mechanics. One is, yes, adequate even enough to induce some fun and pleasure for an instant, miserably brief." That gives be a diameter out to 32 places.

* Caution: fear words with "MON"

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#21

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 3:21 PM

Hmm...now you've got me wondering if an old office-mate used a similar MNEmonIC device (I see what you mean ;-): The Borg was complaining one arvo that his code didn't work and asked if I'd look it over, so I did. Whilst I was following the Pointer from Hell I saw this 'magic number' in his code.

"What's this?"

"Oh, I measured that."

"What is it?"

"A voltage."

"A voltage? You measured a voltage out to 18 decimal places?"

"Yes."

"This voltmeter I just GOTTA see!"

:-X

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#30

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 5:17 PM

Back in the slide rule days, my father knew a fellow prof. who had a working tie clip slide rule. The students would ask him some 4 or 5-digit question and he would look down and work the rule then give them a 4 or 5-digit correct answer. They never did figure out that he had also memorized the 5-place log tables!

--JMM

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#33

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 7:56 PM

Other than a circular one or two, I don't think I still have a real slide rule. Sad that they are no longer used in schools. Helps one to get an intuitive grasp for required levels of precision, significant digits, having an idea of what a reasonable answer should be, etc.

I had a review committee at the Automotive X Prize tell me that I had confused force and mass in some performance calculations. Had I done so (working in English units) I would have been off by a factor of 32: so my 0-60 time of 11 seconds "should" have been either 352 or .343 seconds, neither of which would have been remotely sensible to anyone with a clue. Apparently, they had "the formula" they thought should be used and, seeing that mine was different, assumed I had made some mistake.

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#35

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 8:59 PM

"... he had also memorized the 5-place log tables!"

I've always envied people who have memories like that. Napier (Mr. Logarithm) memorized them, too, but I can't remember out to how many digits! Isn't that sad?!

[Think I'll go wallow in self-pity ..... :-< ]

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#37

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/27/2012 10:36 AM

I have my slide rules, normal size and pocket size. When I got my first one, my boss told me it was only approximate, if I multiplied 2x2 and got 3.99, I should round it off to 4.0 for convenience.

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#38

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/27/2012 12:09 PM

(These little bits make CR4 great fun.)
Mine were Picketts, 5600 angstrom unit yellow, if I recall. Came in a set (again, if I recall, which is becoming increasingly questionable). I remember spending some time getting the sliding "feel" just right.

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#39

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/27/2012 2:18 PM

My first, last and only slide-rule was that model also. I had just learned how to use it when Hewlett-Packard announced the fabulous HP-35. \$300 as I recall and well beyond my budget, and so I continued using my Pickett until such time as I could afford an electronic calculator. I liked my slide rule but I wanted more precision. By the time I could afford a calculator prices had dropped and new models introduced by HP and other companies as well, most notably Texas Instruments. Me being a poor, undernourished uni student who was forced by circumstances to mug his way through school, I still had to wait quite awhile. My first 'trig' calculator was a TI-110 which crapped-out 30 minutes before a major Physics final. I rushed to the bookstore in a panic and lo-and-behold! there, seductively winking at me was a programmable HP-33e which I could afford. I was ecstatic! Learnt RPN in thirty minutes because I had to - that is, if I wanted to pass the final and justify the short-term loan from Dad National Bank.

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#41

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/27/2012 6:10 PM

Ahhh.. the days when HP made great products.

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#45

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/30/2012 12:00 PM

Fond memories of times we really were struggling with learning stuff. In high school I took a cheaper one and sanded all the scales off. Then re-scaled it with correct working A,B,C,D, & L scales in base-7, as part of a math class project. Really interesting to learn and get used to doing multiplication and division in a different number base.

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#32

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 7:34 PM

Odd... I thought I posted something re this.

Hmmm, well it went something like this:

The thing that had me thinking about useless precision was a battery management system I have on my Zing prototype. It reads out in millivolts but is really accurate to about 1/100V. Each of the 16 cells has its own "meter" board feeding data to a dash readout. Just prior to installing the cells, they were of equal voltage down to millivolts (using a single, pretty good DVOM). Installed, the dash readout showed them to have different voltages (because 16 different cheap meters boards are used). The BMS system on the next charge "balanced" the cells to slightly different voltages, blissfully "thinking" that they were now all the same.

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#19

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 2:39 PM

Perhaps we should write those folks and suggest a few of our own questions, now that we're well on the other side of that fence? What do you think? If you were tasked with writing the Math and/or Science segment(s) of the S.A.T. (or with contributing to same), what questions might you ask your prospective audience? Remember, they've been steeped in Leadership, whatever the hay that is these days, so don't be surprised when they go catatonic upon seeing any sort of equation, may Bog help their sodding souls.

Start a new thread, perhaps? I think it would be kind of fun to see what evolves...

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#22

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 3:55 PM

I had this idea for a program I called "every picture in the world" to run on a computer. Just cycle all the possible pixels through all the possible states. Tomorrow's stock report, just think! Also the wrong report for tomorrow's stocks.

Of course all you need is an infinitely fast computer or more time than the universe is old to see anything recognizable. Oh well.

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#24

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 4:05 PM

I just got off the phone with the NSA who've assured me that they saw your post yesterday and have prepared a complete report for your edification. They also threw it away because they've already read your reply to this post which I'm writing now, in which you said you "..don't believe a bloody word of it!"

I'd say they've got their Quantum Computer up and running. They knew I'd say this of course and sent me an email last week telling me to STFU on this particular date or else.

What do you know of Black Helicopters?

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#25

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 4:25 PM

Of course I knew that, I'm very psychic. The main problem though being sorting out the correct hallucination from all the other incorrect ones. Much easier to do in retrospect. And then there are the voices...

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#26

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 4:27 PM
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#27

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 4:35 PM

What do you know of Black Helicopters?

After spay painting them white they change color. If not white, choose a random color. Paint by numbers gone haywire.

They never saw this one coming did they?

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#28

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 4:41 PM

[psst: they don't see this reply either]

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#29

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 5:04 PM

Is that because they already saw it?

I meant to contribute to the random number in a different way. With colors, were they are blindly mixed in quantity and base tone. Then spectrum analyze, which creates a random number. You would never have the same number, not even close, ever.

The beauty of randomness is that we live in it and can't use the proof of its existence to wipe our tears of frustration, created by trying to organize 'whadevva', off our faces.

The moment we start tightening the bolt we nail randomness. Once done it gets really boring for all involved. It just sits there holding whatever it's supposed to hold. "No more chaos for that one!!", sort of a thing.

I'll get to it, Ky.

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#34

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 8:41 PM

I'm assuming you're pixellating the image and running it through a discrete cosine transform, yes? Unless the image is carefully constructed (thereby increasing the risk of its not being completely random) you'll invariably get a number of large-amplitude, low-frequency components if the image contains large-scale structures, and it always will, the largest being the image itself. But read on.

Given that all of these (possibly presumptuous ;) presumptions on my part are true, might it be preferable to toss everything below a certain 'frequency' threshold and keep the rest as your random number? Is this what you have in mind?

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#8

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/25/2012 10:30 PM

For true random numbers you must use something like the time between radioactive decay particles. Or you could go to Elbonia

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#9

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 1:41 AM

Many modern processors have a built in random number generator that uses (i think) the thermal shot noise from a diode. So they're quantum mechanical random number generators. I'm sure the interweb will have lots of info.

Algorithmic random numbers generators generate pseudo random numbers that pass various statistical tests for "randomness". They'll give you numbers so close to random that you'll not be able to tell.

As always a bit of research will answer those pesky homework questions.

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#10

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 6:16 AM

One easy method is to program a really fast cycling counter that stops when you press a key, if you don't consider that cheating.

Random number generating algorithms are really pseudorandom in that they generate a very long sequence with the desired probability distribution, e.g., uniformly distributed between 0 and 1. The sequence will eventually repeat, but this is not a problem in most cases where the amount of data generated is much less than the sequence length. They have the advantage that you can start with the same seed and repeat the same random data while varying other parameters of interest.

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#11

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 8:18 AM

Almost all random number systems (with the exception of computers like ERNIE which used radioactive decay) use a pseudo random sequence. These can be very good if long enough, but will always produce an identical sequence if started with the same seed. The trick is to randomise the seed. Several things can be used for this individually or in combination -

• the delay between startup and a key being pressed measured in microseconds
• The system temperature
• the time the system started
• noise from the microphone input.

In each case the least significant bits are used and the most significant bits discarded which makes it almost impossible to replicate the seed conditions.

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#12

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 8:42 AM

Awesome info. I love this stuff.

The last post equated to what I knew of slot machine seeding.

'Dre

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#13

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 11:34 AM

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#16

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 1:52 PM

Even when you don't look at the article's date (whilst ignoring the retro typeface), you can tell right away that this article is not from a recent issue. How? Because it has substance. I remember reading this article when it was published. It is informative and well-written, yet whilst not being overly arcane - and very typical of SciAm's high-quality content. The article is clearly from the era when SciAm maintained high standards for what made it into their publication, and what didn't. Those standards today are long gone.

[flame]

SciAm today isn't worth the paper it's printed on, IMHO. Shallow and often out-of-date, or ill-informed and naive, SciAm is not even a shadow of its former self. I've seen worse but this doesn't help to make it any less of a disappointment. The publication started going downhill, methinks, when Martin Gardner retired and SciAm considered, then rejected, Forrest Mims - this largely on the (illegal and irrelevant) basis of Mims privately being a theist. The official explanation is course different, but Mims himself later described the antagonistic and unwarranted grilling he endured at their hands during his interview; largely centering not on his considerable talent, merit and ability but concerning what amounts to his private religious beliefs, which he does not freely discuss. If anyone demonstrated an 'unscientific attitude' it was SciAm itself. Mims remained objective throughout, to his credit.

[/flame]

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#23

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 3:58 PM

Bittersweet... like so much of the past. (sigh)

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#31

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 7:00 PM

It this the same Forrest Mims that has no training in science, believes in "Intelligent design" and doesn't believe in climate science?

I'd say the Scientific American directors were right in picking someone else.

Heaven knows there are already enough publications taking an anti science tack.

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#36

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/26/2012 9:57 PM

Is he the same person? I don't know.

Mims submitted three trial articles for SciAm's column Amateur Scientist and all three were greeted with enthusiasm by both SciAm's Piers and the publication's audience. Piers never questioned Mims' competence in this area, it was the public relations debacle he feared might ensue if it became generally well-known that Mims considered himself a Creationist. Mims' ability was never in question, not even by Piers.

"Is this the same Forrest mims that has no training in science, believes in 'Intelligent design' and doesn't believe in climate science?"

Maybe we should take a look at Mims' bio and you tell me if we're speaking here of the same person:

Forrest M. Mims III is an instrument designer, science writer and independent science consultant. He has made regular observations of the ozone layer, solar ultraviolet radiation, photosynthetic radiation, column water vapor and aerosol optical thickness since 1989 at his Geronimo Creek Observatory in Texas. He cofounded MITS Inc., the company that introduced the first personal computer, and Science Probe magazine, which he edited.

Mims' columns have appeared in Scientific American, Popular Electronics, Computers & Electronics, Modern Electronics, Computercraft, Science Probe and The Citizen Scientist. His scientific publications have appeared in Nature, Science, Photochemistry and Photobiology, The Journal of Molecular Evolution, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Geophysical Research, Applied Optics, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, EOS, Journal of the American Foundation for the Blind and other peer-reviewed journals. His general publications have appeared in more than 70 magazines and newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Harper's, Philadelphia Inquirer, Science Digest, Popular Photography and National Geographic World. Mims has also published over 60 books with publishers including McGraw-Hill, Prentice-Hall, David McKay, Osborne-McGraw-Hill, Tab, Radio Shack, Master Publishing, Sams and Consumer Guide. His Radio Shack books have sold 7.5 million copies. His book on the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory will be published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2008.

Mims, who served as an intelligence officer and engineer in the U.S. Air Force, has been a consultant for GLOBE, National Science Teacher's Association, TERC, the Concord Consortium and RadioShack. He was co-principal investigator of the GLOBE program's haze project (1998-2006). He studied the effect of biomass burning on the atmosphere for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Brazil in 1995 and 1997 and in the Western U.S. in 1996. He currently serves as a consultant for NASA's Langley Research Center and is editor of The Citizen Scientist (2004 to present). Mims is also the site operator for the United States Department of Agriculture UV-B monitoring site at Texas Lutheran University, a position he has held since 2004. Mims is the past chair and present vice-chair of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science (2004 to present), and has represented Guadalupe County, Texas, on two government air quality committees in South Texas since 2003.

Mims is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Rolex Award for Enterprise (1987) alternate and 1993 (laureate). He received the Industrial Research IR-100 Award for inventing a miniature eyeglass-mounted travel aid for the blind. He is currently expanding his regular atmospheric measurements to include studies of airborne bacteria, mosquito visual response and tannin distribution in annual growth rings of Taxodium distichum (baldcypress).

Forrest Mims is by far the most widely published author of electronics books in the world, having sold more than one billion copies over the course of his career.

----

Same bloke?

Concerning having ideological differences (where it concerns Science this attitude is called scientism), the Williamsburg Charter says it best:

Recent controversies over religion and public life have too often become a form of warfare in which individuals, motives, and reputations have been impugned. The intensity of the debate is commensurate with the importance of the issues debated, but to those engaged in this warfare we present two arguments for reappraisal and restraint.

The lesser argument is one of expediency and is based on the ironic fact that each side has become the best argument for the other. One side's excesses have become the other side's arguments; one side's extremists the other side's recruiters. The danger is that, as the ideological warfare becomes self-perpetuating, more serious issues and broader national interests will be forgotten and the bitterness deepened.

The more important argument is one of principle and is based on the fact that the several sides have pursued their objectives in ways which contradict their own best ideals. Too often, for example, religious believers have been uncharitable, liberals have been illiberal, conservatives have been insensitive to tradition, champions of tolerance have been intolerant, defenders of free speech have been censorious, and citizens of a republic based on democratic accommodation have succumbed to a habit of relentless confrontation.

-----

-e

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#43

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/27/2012 10:51 PM

To the opening question: Yes, it is the same person.

Who is/was SciAm's "Piers"?

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#44

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/27/2012 11:29 PM

I meant to say Piel, Gerard Piel. Thanks for catching this.

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#42

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/27/2012 10:37 PM

I wonder how that happened, as Gardner was a theist, apparently without problems.

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#46

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/30/2012 7:24 PM

nthing is actually random..... we concider them as random because we cannot control the parameters that control the output

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#47

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/30/2012 7:29 PM

Apparently you are making up your own definition of the word.

If I'm not mistaken, we're engaged in a discussion about physics and not philosophy.

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#48

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

04/30/2012 9:19 PM

...and even in philosophy, I doubt there is a good argument that nothing is random.

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#49

### Re: Is Random Really Random?

05/01/2012 1:11 AM

In philosophy there are a lot of not good arguments.

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