Talk:History of randomness

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Untitled[edit]

It is surprising the Abraham de Moivre and The Doctrine of Chances are not mentioned here. Maybe later I'll figure out where best to fit them in. Michael Hardy (talk) 20:41, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

It is a question of who/what is a "big time" item. I had the lobbyists for many 18th century people contact me about getting into this article, I did not know which to include/exclude - just kidding. But in the end my focus was not to do a "history or probability theory" article, but on randomness in general. Given that even axiomatic probability theory ever so carefully avoids a definition of what a random sequence is, the History of probability needs to include M. de Moivre and Rev. Bayes rather than this article, not to make it too long, else many other contenders will have to get in too and it will get overweight. History of probability needs help anyway. Cheers. History2007 (talk) 20:58, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Few points I'd like to mention, which may or may not be incorporated into the article.

  • There is a close connection between randomness and chaos. Chaos emerges in three or more-dimensional systems of differential equations. Weather forecasts and the three-body problem mentioned in the article are the examples of such systems possessing chaotic features.
  • One of the major blows to the Newtonian deterministic view of the universe was the quantum mechanics, which incorporates inherent randomness through the wave function. Although Einstein claimed that “God doesn't play dice”, the modern viewpoint is that he actually does.
  • Modern use of randomness is not limited to the use of randomized algorithms in computer science. In game theory, which studies interactions between objective-maximizing entities (such as individuals, firms, governments, etc.), the pivotal Nash theorem establishes the existence of equilibria in mixed strategies — that is, the strategies that randomize between actions. The interpretation of this fact is that in many situations apparent randomness and unpredictability of the behavior of people is not a “flaw” but instead the optimal strategy of behavior.
    Many mechanisms are now designed to incorporate randomness. Examples: IRS randomly selects individuals whose tax reports will be checked; airport security are instructed to select random people for luggage check-up; police are supposed to randomize their patrol routes; subsampling for population surveys (eg. pre-election polls) is done randomly and with extreme care (in order not to introduce sampling bias); etc.

 // stpasha »  17:39, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Actually Pasha I think your points are generally pretty valid and educational, but they are less historical than recent. In fact, the article on Randomness itself, rather than its history, is where such input is needed, for that article has a few low quality tags on top of it. A section on Chaos in the Randomness article can really help. And I think a mention of the game theory item is probably a good idea here if you just want to add a sentence at the end where I mentioned randomized algos. But if this article gets too technical and heavy, it will be a duplicate of the Randomness article, which is where teh real technical items belong. Cheers. History2007 (talk) 20:04, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Very interesting. And all in the course of a day! I don't work that fast. Xandar 20:58, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

According to [1] the “randomness” of digits of pi is still an unresolved conjecture in mathematics. Although in those few trillions digits that were calculated by supercomputers the digits have quite uniform distribution.  // stpasha »  22:56, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

That Wolfram source uses normal numbers that were introduced by Émile Borel after Venn's book. That was why I carefully said Venn presented a proof. But this is probably too much effort to bicker and I will just delete that later. History2007 (talk) 23:04, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Origin of the concept of entropy[edit]

The context for this sentence

Entropy is now widely used in diverse fields of science from thermodynamics to quantum chemistry.

may imply that that the concept of entropy originated with Shannon in 1948. The "now" may suggest that entropy was not used in the other disciplines before Shanon starting using it. The lead says this:

In the 19th century the concept of entropy was introduced in physics.

- Ac44ck (talk) 20:14, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

The article says: "The term entropy, which is now a key element in the study of randomness, was coined by Rudolf Clausius in 1865". Hence the lede is correct in summarizing that. And given that the article says it was also studied by Boltzman, I do not think it is contradictory. But Shannon's work was seminal. I did, however, add a 19th century qualifier to that part to clarify it even further. History2007 (talk) 20:37, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

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