Looking for explanation of randomness.

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  • #76
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Whoa. Alot of talk on what would seem to be a very simple thing (for some). I have kinda skipped several pages because of all the talk that seems to go on and on without producing a result.
One point of view would be (which seems most logical to me):
In order for us to predict (with absolute certainty) something happening, you need to know all the variables. When it comes to predicting if something will fall if you pick it up and drop it, you can guess what the result will be (it will fall until it can't any more) since the variables that are most effecting the object are ones that we can know to a fair degree of accuracy - they are the ones that govern how we live, so we need to be able to get them allmost right. As the end result of the problem gets smaller, the lesser variables have more effect on the whole, making it more important that you know everything in order to predict that result.

Provided you can know all the variables in an equation, you can predict the result. It is most likely however, that since we are part of the equation, it makes it impossible to know every other part of the equation. Even if we did manage know just about every variable, or at least enough to calculate everything we can think of, there may be more variables out there that affect things that it is impossible for us to know of.

In mathematics, it is possible to create an artificial universe in which you can know every variable if you know enough of the whole to begin with. There are still problems in math that seem like randomness as we do not know all the parameters or have not spent enough time solving them, and there are equations that are random simply because we refuse to tell the rest of the equation what part of it could be.

If we then take into account the possibility of a God, we must assume that this entity is the source of all randomness, as it is the ultimate unpredictable source. Many beliefs contradict this, while others agree. It is more a topic of discussion that cannot be resolved, as we will never know if we simply don't know all the possible variables or something is out there changing them before we can tie them to paper.

And i think that there are a couple of other variables to this problem that i can't quite remember at the moment, but for now, randomness is either an illusion brought on by being stupid (as humans are) or something that we will never know the answer to. Strange how the result of the randomness equation is un-knowable or random.
 
  • #77
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wierd101 said:
Whoa. Alot of talk on what would seem to be a very simple thing (for some). I have kinda skipped several pages because of all the talk that seems to go on and on without producing a result.
One point of view would be (which seems most logical to me):
In order for us to predict (with absolute certainty) something happening, you need to know all the variables. When it comes to predicting if something will fall if you pick it up and drop it, you can guess what the result will be (it will fall until it can't any more) since the variables that are most effecting the object are ones that we can know to a fair degree of accuracy - they are the ones that govern how we live, so we need to be able to get them allmost right. As the end result of the problem gets smaller, the lesser variables have more effect on the whole, making it more important that you know everything in order to predict that result.
It does not follow that "knowing everything" will allow you to predict the result - unless you also know the result. If there are truly random (indeterministic) processes at work then their outcome cannot be predicted.

wierd101 said:
Provided you can know all the variables in an equation, you can predict the result.
If you know all the variables, there is nothing left to "predict", is there?

wierd101 said:
It is most likely however, that since we are part of the equation, it makes it impossible to know every other part of the equation. Even if we did manage know just about every variable, or at least enough to calculate everything we can think of, there may be more variables out there that affect things that it is impossible for us to know of.
Chaos theory, HUP, and the indeterminability of self-referential systems all work to prevent infallible predictions.

wierd101 said:
In mathematics, it is possible to create an artificial universe in which you can know every variable if you know enough of the whole to begin with.
This only works because you have eliminated chaos, HUP and self-referentiality from your "artificial universe" - it doesn't work in real life.

wierd101 said:
There are still problems in math that seem like randomness as we do not know all the parameters or have not spent enough time solving them, and there are equations that are random simply because we refuse to tell the rest of the equation what part of it could be.
This has nothing to do with randomness - it's simply an "unknown"

wierd101 said:
Strange how the result of the randomness equation is un-knowable or random.
Unknowable is not the same as random.

Best Regards
 
  • #78
vanesch
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Mickey said:
Hmm. Maybe, it's a question of whether we can have such a thing as intelligible randomness?
This brings us back to the previously discussed difference between epistemological randomness (= ignorance randomness) and ontological randomness (the irreducible kind).

It's not clear what you mean by "intelligible randomness", and I agree with moving finger's response. Maybe you mean: purely epistic randomness without ontological foundation (which is *usually* what his understood by randomness).

Entanglement appears to play a role here. Looking at one list of unpredictable measurements, we can make a prediction for another list of measurements that are otherwise unpredictable. Does entanglement offer us a glimpse at a non-rationally intelligible randomness?
Entanglement as such doesn't do anything of the kind, it just complicates an eventually underlying determinism. Although it is not the same, it is probably understandable: consider a non-local deterministic theory (such as Bohmian mechanics). The motion of a particle in the Andromeda galaxy can *seriously* affect the motion of a particle in your lab on earth, due to the non-local character of the dynamics. Bohmians use it to *mimic* entanglement, but it is not the same (although it can produce the same results). It is true that a deterministic, even Newtonian, mechanics, with strong non-locality such as in Bohmian mechanics, would make any apparent randomness untracktable, because you could never confine the system under study to a finite region of space with an (even approximate) local dynamics.

Entanglement does something similar, although it is conceptually different.

However, both phenomena (entanglement, or non-local deterministic dynamics) do not really address the issue of randomness ; they just make the follow-up of the dynamics even more hopeless by potentially including the entire universe significantly into the dynamics.
 
  • #79
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Oh, interesting. I hadn't appreciated the distinctions between entanglement and Bohmian mechanics yet.

I suppose it just underscores my original point. All this non-local business makes approaching the randomness question even more daunting, not just for the fact that the universe is so large, but that we'd have to take into account the whole of it.
 

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