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# Randomization

This section explores some of the basic Darwin functions for randomization.

A number generator starts with an initial number s0 and produces a sequence of numbers . This initial number s0 is called the seed for the sequence. If the number generator was producing a truly random sequence of numbers, then having seen the partial sequence , for any i, it is impossible to predict the number si+1.

Producing truly random sequences is impossible or at least extremely difficult (and hints at some deep philosophic issues). Instead, most languages provide functions to generate pseudo random numbers. Pseudo-random sequences also begin with a seed s0 and produce a sequence . However, pseudo-random sequences have a period, that is, there exists an i such that and it is theoretically possible to invert the generation function which takes and produces si. In other words, we could deduce the si having seen . In practice, for most applications, these pseudo random generators are more than sufficient.

Gaston Gonnet
1998-09-15