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Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of the Unknown Science

Random numbers

“We can never decide for sure that a number is random, but what we can do is apply an increasing number of tests and treat our sequence of numbers as innocent until proved guilty.”

Source Colva Roney-Dougal, Senior Lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews, speaking in 'Random and Pseudorandom', BBC 'In our time' Jan. 2011.

Although the tests can show that a finite sequence of numbers appears to be random (i.e. it can't be mathematically represented in a shorter form) - there is currently no mathematical method to prove that if it continues, the next numbers in the sequence won't start to repeat.

“I can never prove that a sequence of numbers is random, I can only say that it looks and smells random given all the tests I've been able to apply so far.”

A number of 'tests' have been developed to gauge how random a sequence of numbers might be. They include statistical tests, transforms, and measures of complexity - or a mixture of these.


Also see :Pi normalityplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigPi normality

A 'normal' sequence of numbers is one in which no digit occurs more frequently than any other. The mathematical equivalent of White Noise.

'Normality' is usually considered to be one of the tests for randomness.

The Pi sequence has now been computed to m…

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