# Random Number Generator

1. Jul 3, 2006

### kuahji

I am just curious. If I have a random number generator, eventually, if I wait long enough all possible numbers should began to repeat. Or would the numbers not repeat? For example, if say the first hundred numbers were totally random 455688132547... etc. would the machine eventually repeat the numbers? If so, how would I go about calculating an approximation of when they'd repeat?
Anyway, hope that all made sense.

2. Jul 4, 2006

### robert Ihnot

Sure the numbers will repeat, but the question is just how many digits are you talking about? Now at dice numbers run from 2 to 12, 7 is the most frequent number. It is not uncommon, not that uncommon for 7 to repeat 3 or even 4 times in a row. Sure, not like everytime, but you keep playing and YOU WILL SEE SUCH REPEATS!

To make a rough estimate, I guess a throw of dice may take only 15 seconds. So that would give 4 throws in a minute. The 7 comes up 1/6 of the time, and four of them every 1296 throws. So that amounts to 5.4 hours of actual play! Now, of course, at the table there is time spent changing dealers, so slower period exists, and probably faster ones too. Of course, your play could be over days or weeks, but certainly if what we are talking about is an average of 5.4 hours of actual play, you don't have to play that game for very long before it may happen!

The trouble with these repeating 7s is they are the bane of the wrong better, who bets against the house. On the pass line, when you first start, the right player will automatically win if a 7 is thrown. (Rather than lose as is usual with a 7.) If the wrong better can get his number, (4,5,6, 8,9,10) he is likely to win because the shooter will probably throw a 7 before hitting the wrong better's number again. Since wrong betters have this advantage once they have their number, they may begin by betting heavy, because otherwise they will have to give odds if they want to add to their bet since with their number the game is now in their favor.) The true bane of being a wrong better is that a series of 7s might occur before he can get his number, then instead of rejoicing over immediate wins, he has immediate losses. (If this happens three times in a row, he may be cured of betting wrong.)

The matter in general is discussed by the mathemtician and philosopher Nassin Nicholas, writer of "Fooled by Randomness." He asks what happens, "When the black swan alights"? (While some have compaired them to unicorns, it's not true, black swans do exist.) http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/ I quote: NNT is the Dean’s Professor in the Sciences of Uncertainty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is also an essayist, belletrist, literary-philosophical-mathematical flâneur, and practitioner of uncertainty (“mathematical trader”) focusing on the attributes of unexpected events, with a focus on extreme deviations, the “Black Swans” (i.e. outliers), their unpredictability, and our general inability to forecast.

Again, what is involved in the problem of kuahji is the range, R, of the numbers involved. Take Pick 3 there are 1000 numbers involved, 000 to 999. So that a reapeat of a GIVEN NUMBER would be 1/million, but normally what is being sought is the repeat of ANY NUMBER, and that is just 1/1000 or the range of the numbers in question. So if we suppose that Pick 3 is played twice a day for 6 days a week, we should expect that after about 83 weeks we would see the same number come up twice in two successive drawings. If one has the time or inclination, he could check this out!

Last edited: Jul 4, 2006
3. Jul 4, 2006

### MeJennifer

Sure?
Well in principle one could make a random number generator that does not repeat.

4. Jul 4, 2006

### mathman

Random number generators, as normally thought of, are programs on digital computers, where numbers have a finite number of bits. Therefore there are only a finite number of possibilities for numbers out of the generator. As a result, the generator must eventually repeat numbers it had turned out previously.

5. Jul 4, 2006

### MeJennifer

Then I suppose I do not think normally

Furthermore a true random number generator, assuming such a device would exist, that would never give any duplicate numbers would most certainly not be a true random generator.

Last edited: Jul 4, 2006
6. Jul 4, 2006

Staff Emeritus
Excellent point, but the failure of pseudo-random generators would be to repeat whole cycles of previously generated numbers, since they're just periodic with very long periods.

7. Jul 4, 2006

### MeJennifer

Well not quite.
For instance it is not true that if a random generator is not periodic it must be true random.
Being periodic is just one of the criteria that disqualifies a generator as random.

8. Jul 4, 2006

### Intuitive

I am an advanced Programmer in Vbscript and in order to have what's called a true random number generator you'd have to deal with infinity.

You can not deal with infinty on a system that requires a time limit therefore you can not have a true random number generator but you can give it very large odds.

I can build you a true random number generator but it would never stop functioning and freeze your system.

9. Jul 5, 2006

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
You cannot implement a true random number generator entirely on a digital computer. The best you can do is a "pseudo-random number generator," which, as has been said, will eventually repeat. This is because computer programs are deterministic, and can do no better than shuffling bits in a complex (yet not random) way.

There are, however, many sources of true randomness available in the physical world. The voltage across a temperature-sensing diode in the processor, the time between successive user keystrokes, the receipt of random broadcast packets on a network interface, etc. are all random enough, at least in aggregate, for most cryptographic purposes. A random-number generator based on such sources of true randomness will never repeat.

- Warren

10. Jul 5, 2006

### BoTemp

It depends on what you mean by "repeat". Any random number generator must pick over a finite set, so lets say you want to generate random integers from 1-100. A pseudorandom number generator would repeat it's sequence infinitely many times. A truly random number generator could never be guaranteed to repeat, but it must. Any sequence it generated once would be generated again later, but only given infinite time. Given finite time, the probability of repeating a sequence of length n starting from a given point would be (1/100)^n, same as it was for being generated the first time.

11. Jul 5, 2006

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
Who cares? Why don't we keep the discussion to things that are physically realistic?

- Warren

12. Jul 5, 2006

### MeJennifer

Hmmm, this is the Mathematics / Number theory section right?

13. Jul 5, 2006

### chroot

Staff Emeritus
Random number generators, including those implemented on computers, are rather physical things. The qualities being discussed -- repitition, for example -- depend on the actual physical nature of their implementation.

- Warren

14. Jul 5, 2006

### matt grime

You want to do it mathematically? Define random then. What is the sample set, and what is the probability distribution on that sample set, i.e. what are the measurable subsets, the sigma algebra, whatever you choose to call it.

Integer values? That doesn't have a uniform distribution. The interval [0,1] with the uniform measure? Then you're into all kinds of issues as to what it means to actually sample a single element from a continuous distribution. Remember, such things are purely mathematical constructs, and only model of what we find in the real world.

Last edited: Jul 5, 2006
15. Jul 5, 2006

### MeJennifer

Hmmm, well the digits of PI and e are quite random aren't they.

16. Jul 5, 2006

### matt grime

That isn't a good enough definition. There are many interpretations of that sentence.

What is true is that pi is believed to be normal (no proof exists) and that means something very specific, so its *digits* are believed to be 'random' in the sense of 'normal' (see e.g. wolfram for an explanation). If you wanted to generate a 3 digit string at random then sure picking some 3 digit string from pi would create a random (conjecturally) 3 digit string, but it is not producing a random number (how many digits in the string should you pick? And that doesn't even then begin to address what it means to pick a string at random).

Last edited: Jul 5, 2006
17. Aug 25, 2006

### Crosstalk

With random number generators, a quickly built one will often generate a series like 174891029174891029174891029174891029, where it repeats forever. Often, though, it is a long time before a repitition occurs. A good random number generator is designed to not have repitition as obvious as that, in fact a very good random number generator has no repitition that goes on forever. So, yes, if you took the output of some random number generators, they would repeat forever, and for some they wouldn't ever start repeating forever.

18. Aug 26, 2006

### 0rthodontist

Any pseudo-random number generator that is written on a computer with a finite amount of memory must output a sequence that a repeating tail. This is because the computer only has a finite number of states it can take, so it must repeat some state eventually, and once it does that it gets locked into a loop of states which repeatedly outputs the same finite string of numbers.

19. Aug 26, 2006

### HallsofIvy

Okay, now you need to define "random" and "quite random"! I don't see how that responds to

20. Aug 26, 2006

### -Job-

Computers can be made to output an arbitrarily large randomish number, since it's not really required that the whole number be kept in memory. For example, an algorithm that outputs the digits of a random number in batches of k random digits only keeps at most k digits in memory. The difficulty is in deciding when to stop outputting the number. After how many digits will the computer stop? It should be a random number of digits. To be a perfect random generator the probability of stopping at the nth digit should be the same as that of stopping at the (n+1)th digit, approximately 0, which is not really feasible.
Unless perhaps we start the computer and let it naturally come to a stop (i.e. due to destruction, insufficient resources, etc). If the universe is truly random, then the system will be a true random number generator.

Last edited: Aug 26, 2006