From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Randomness:

  • In Randomness and Religion, the Buddhist position on karma is misrepresented. Specifically, karma means volitional action. Additionally, karma is not presumed to be the only causal mechanism behind events. Chance is another factor, as is the karma of others. In Buddhism, karma is a being's volitional action which heavily influences that being's future experiences, but it does not determine them completely (as in sowing seeds which may or may not germinate depending on a compound of factors - some volitional, some not). In this regard, the Buddhist position on karma has nothing to do with randomness. Perhaps this portion of the article should be removed, as I am unaware of Buddhism even taking a position on randomness. See the Wikipedia article Karma in Buddhism for a better explanation. Additionally, the Hindu view was lumped together with the Buddhist view, and I suspect the Hindu view of karma suffers from a similar misrepresentation.
  • Present Random number generators in the Communications and Cryptography paragraph? Since I'm not sure how to do it (to give details about Pseudorandom number generators and Hardware random number generators or not...), and the whole article is pretty well written, I don't want to mess with it :-)
  • Fix grammar. No run on sentences allowed!
  • In Randomness and Religion, 'Compatibilist' should be reverted to 'Incompatibilist,' no? Ejhumphrey (talk) 01:57, 21 April 2008 (UTC)


Outright Error[edit]

This article states "It is generally accepted that there exist three mechanisms responsible for (apparently) random behavior in systems" and goes on to list these three mechanisms.

These three mechanisms might be the only mechanisms in the original author's imagined view of how the universe works, but they are not the only means of generating randomness in the setting of quantum mechanics. See, for example, Prof. John Preskill's lecture notes for physics 229 at Caltech:

Furthermore, I should note that physicist Richard Feynman advocated the view that quantum theory is a generalization of probability theory that uses complex numbers in intermediate calculations. Furthermore, this is actually used by nature, regardless of century's old postulations of Pascal and the like.

Random outcomes in quantum mechanics are absolutely required to prevent the non-local description inherent in the theory from allowing faster-than-light communication. See, for example, the theory of non-local boxes, also called "PR boxes". Also see the "EPR paradox". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:29, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

logical faux pas[edit]

In my professional opinion, this article is misleading on the concept of randomness.

This page has logical faux pas. It delineates randomness as a word apart of scientific notion. The scientific\mathematical concept and word definition are that randomness is without pattern, order, or structure.

If anything has a pattern, order, or structure then that "thing" can be mathematically modelled. It has order to it.

Probabilistic outcomes are ordered using mathematical formulas. Thus, probability is not random. Probability is used as an approximation of what is random and useful for that purpose. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by MrMiami (talkcontribs) 17:01, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Randomness is not caused by what you do or think, it is about who you are in yourself. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Indiecazz (talkcontribs) 13:35, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

An important concept in the theory of probability is a random variable. Throwing a die 10 times, noting the outcomes, is a random experiment, that can be modelled in probability theory. So what exactly do you mean, "probability is not random"? Of course, it is not random that the "probability" of throwing a six with a die is 1/6; that's part of a pattern. But the actual outcome in a particular throw is "random".--Niels Ø (noe) 13:44, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
The actual of "throwing dice" is modelled using mathematical formulas of probabilitiy and the outcome is a probabilistic result. Therefore, there is no true randomness or true random action. If true randomness were present we would have no way of modelling the outcome using probability. The result could be anything but instead the outcomes are limited to the behavior of the mathematical formulas used. True Randomness and probability are exclusive of each other. However, probability is used to approximate true randomness using psuedo-random numbers as true random numbers are impossible to mathematically model.(MrMiami 21:25, 1 April 2007 (UTC))
You are apparently using the word "random" in quite an unusual way. I really don't follow the concept you're trying to convey with it and am not convinced it's even coherent. But maybe it is, and maybe it's valuble, and maybe you should write a paper about it. In the meantime, though, the article should stick with standard usage. You may want to review WP:NOR, which elucidates the WP policy on this sort of thing. --Trovatore 23:16, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
There is a distinction between psuedo-randomness and true randomness. Also there is a clear abundance of writing on this concept. I don't need to write another paper. I am simply conveying what 4 collegiate years of mathematics and physics has taught me. (MrMiami 00:51, 2 April 2007 (UTC))
The way you are using the word "random" is not standard. The use of it in the sense of behavior that can be described by probability, on the other hand, is standard. --Trovatore 05:40, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, on reflection I may have an idea what you're talking about. You're right that there's a distinction between pseudo-randomness and true randomness, but it's not the one you've presented, at least not as the word "pseudo-random" is standardly used.
A pseudorandom number generator is a deterministic way of producing outcomes that are hard to predict. A simple example is the decimal representation of π. Quick, what's the probability that the 39,752,345th digit of π, starting at the decimal point, is a 7?
Well, the answer depends on what you mean. The objective probability is either exactly zero or exactly one, because that digit either is a 7 or it isn't, and a quick search could find out which. However, until I do that search, my subjective, or Bayesian, probability for that proposition is about 0.1 -- that is, assuming I believe you haven't done the search either, I could rationally offer you about 9 to 1 odds to bet on 7, and I would bet on 7 for about the same odds.
On the other hand, if an atom of tritium has been captured in some chamber where, when it decays, we'll be able to tell, and the proposition is "will it have decayed 1.87 years from now?", then the probability is again about 0.1. But now this is objective probability, at least according to the usual interpretation of quantum mechanics. Whether it happens or not is truly random -- but nevertheless has a well-defined probability. --Trovatore 06:43, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

What you are describing are all ordered. True randomness has no order. Probability whether deterministic or indeterminant is clearly ordered and behaves according to the its formulas. My definition and description comes after 15 quarters of mathematics. It is not odd or out of the ordinary. It is the correct way of looking at it. (MrMiami 17:27, 2 April 2007 (UTC))

MrMiami, you are simply wrong. --Trovatore 17:59, 2 April 2007 (UTC) Sorry, let me rephrase that; I lost my cool for a second. Your description is not standard. You will not find it in any standard references, and I challenge you to try. And you might want to take a glance at my user page before you throw "15 quarters of mathematics" at me. --Trovatore 18:13, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. It is consistent with my education at Ohio State which seems to be in conflict with your Education at UCLA. Please do not delete my inputs. I challenge you prove your position before making your assertations. (MrMiami 18:25, 2 April 2007 (UTC))
That's not the way it works. You prove it, if you want it in there. And by the way, learn to indent. --Trovatore 18:26, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
True randomness has no order is really an assertion, not a mathematical statement. I think you should slow down, and take a moment to appreciate that what appears in Wikipedia must be attributable to a reliable source, as it says below the edit box. If you have a reference for what you are claiming, you can move the discussion on by citing it. Charles Matthews 18:38, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) In the end, educational background is not that important, because content disagreements at WP are settled by providing references to reliable sources, per the policy Wikipedia:Attribution.
MrMiami, your interpretation that there is no true randomness in dice is unsupported by the ordinary meaning of the word randomness in probability theory, where the outcome of throwing dice is a random variable. Would you provide a reliable reference that backs you up on that point? CMummert · talk 18:41, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
(random is not a physical science term) Random in physical science, meaning molecules, atoms and all the way to complex chemical structure and things that are real, is not plausible. The idea of random in the physical world defies the most fundamental laws of science. This is the law that all science rests on and that is the law of cause and effect or cause and result. If there is no cause and result there is no way to "practice" any form of physical science, biology or chemistry. There is no science without cause and result. In the physical world there are only causes and effects or cause and results. When some causes are produced in rapid succession and many causes effecting the results at the same time it only appears "random" because the human mind is not capable of dealing with calculating, or comprehending that many events taking place at one instant. Rolling the dice is done according to the laws of physics and the numbers appear according to the events that caused those dots to show on top. If you were capable of calculation all the mass, momentum, vectors gravitational and electromagnetic causes and such you would be able to predict the outcome. It is because of the feebleness of the human mind to not be able to comprehend multiple causes and results taking place at one instant that this "invention" of fantasy random was created. I do not think we should give praise to something that tells us how weak the human mind is. In pure mathematics you can make random seem more plausible, but that has never been able to be transferred down into actual physical processes, chemical reactions and events. In other words, you cannot equate pure abstract theoretical math to the physical sciences. You can use math to calculate known factors (causes and results) in physics, but math is NOT science, and science is not Math. Teaching people that random is possible in physical science is just wrong. (GoodScienceForYou) —Preceding unsigned comment added by GoodScienceForYou (talkcontribs) 21:41, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

The definition prior to my coming to the page stated that randomness has no order. Then the article procedes to confound the notion between order and unorder using probability which is ordered. Order is a common mathematical and scientific axiom with its clear and definitive demarcation about order and unordered systems. This is mathematics 101 but I'll work on educating you with references. (MrMiami 21:03, 2 April 2007 (UTC))
Donald Knuth, in TAOCP 2, Seminumerical Algorithms, ISBN 978-0-201-89684-8, has an extended discussion of conceptions and misconceptions of randomness. Perhaps, MrMiami, you would find it helpful to read that. Meanwhile, please respect the way Wikipedia operates. If you are able to cite a reliable source — such as a peer-reviewed article in a reputable journal or a standard textbook — to support your concept, please provide us with a reference. If not, further attempts to alter the article will be unwelcome. You are, of course, free to hold any personal view you like, and we do appreciate your desire to contribute; what we ask is that you limit your contributions according to our restrictions. Thanks for your understanding and future cooperation. --KSmrqT 19:15, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
I am overseas and unable to access references "Mere Christianity" and "Nature Via Nuture". I will place citations later.(MrMiami 20:57, 2 April 2007 (UTC))
Well, we ask for references for a reason. And it would be more consistent to appeal to mathematics and physics books. It is rather unhelpful to cite 'mathematics 101'. You should perhaps take on board the likelihood that others working on the article have a substantial background in mathematics. Charles Matthews 10:26, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Poetry Randomness: The Source[edit]

Randomness is so interesting... I'd like to mention that the random must be one of the most interesting things about this Universe. It is pure information, coming from somewhere. Where does all that information come from?

From hence the source of vast expense a dataflow with us in tow through space as black as crow whilst the farmer tills his row the thoughtful struggle to know the means and methods of subspace flow.

I'm especially interested in Brownian motion and quantum vacuum fluctuations, as well as virtual-particle pairs. These are the finest-grain sources of information in the Universe, that I know of. Randomness seems to be the source of everything, in matter space and string. Beyond the uniform of the thing, it is the bee's pointed sting. The edge, the ledge, the sharpened sedge: all are its handsome wedge. By means of brutality it differentiates our reality, and makes a mess of simplistic causality.

Beyond the fear can be found the queer, if you make an effort to closely peer. Cause and effect are only circumspect, when sealed is the system against outside introspect. Only then can one know what to expect.

It is time to retire ahead of the quantum fire, and listen carefully to the sun-drenched lyre. In it you'll find the harmonics do grind; only the yellow will be fairly mellow. The atoms dance and take turns to prance; so too my lengthy rants. After a while they calm to single file, superconduction is my best deduction. Faster trains mean less pains, but is it influenced by the sizing grains?

Interface harmonics and teledildonics, rising brains and roaring trains. It is time to wrap and end this flap, before the quantum store is filled to the core. Then, it will become a spore, rolling gently on my hardwood floor. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Randomness and religion[edit]

I think the recent change in the first para was ill-advised,

The orginal read:

Randomness has been associated closely with the notion of free will in a number of ways. Humans, acting based on free will, have thoughts that often lead to actions that occur in the physical universe. Therefore, free will is potentially a means that interjects random action into the natural universe.

The replacement read:

Randomness has been associated closely with the notion of free will in a number of ways. If a person has free will (under some conceptions of what that means), then his actions will be somewhat unpredictable by other people and so appear to be partially random to them.

The change weakens the idea of human introducing real, ontological indeterminacy into the universe to the idea of merely epistemic, eye-of-the=-beholder unpredictability. However, the theological issue is very much about the (supposed) ability of human to act independently of physical law. 1Z 13:56, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

The original version takes a philosophical and religious position which is questionable. I was trying to replace it with something which is definitely true and NPOV. JRSpriggs 06:24, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
WP is based on verifiability. The article only need to note that certain people believe XYZ. You can't fault a section entitled "religion" for containing religious views. The issue about eye-of-the-beholder unpredictability doesn't constitute any kind of a difficult problem, so the rest of the section would be fairly incomprehensible. 1Z 10:25, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
Peter, I think you're right that the theological issue involves the ability to transcend (though not necessarily violate) physical law, but that doesn't make it about randomness. A free choice made by an agent is not caused by physics, but it's not random either; it's caused by the agent himself. No doubt there do exist people who believe that free will is the same as randomness, but surely that's a minority view, not really representative of metaphysical libertarianism in general, and should probably be attributed to some specific thinkers, if any can be found, that take that view. --Trovatore 07:34, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Robert Kane takes the randomness-based view.

If all free will is agent causation, which is different to randomness, then the whole religion section is pretty irrelevant to an article on randomness. It should perhaps be rewritten in terms of lack of physical determinacy.1Z 12:29, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, my feeling is that the religion section as currently written is of limited relevance in this article, particularly the parts of it having to do with free will. I really do not ever recall any (serious, scholarly) theological account of free will that equated it with randomness (by the way, though I'm not familiar with Kane's work, the Robert Kane (philosopher) article makes his account sound agent-based to me; if it's really randomness-based then maybe that article needs revision).
I believe that the religion section is largely the work of one editor who was somewhat problematic in that he persisted for some time in trying to introduce inappropriate material into the "physical sciences" section of the article. At the time I didn't really challenge him in the "religion" section, but perhaps the religion section also needs to be reviewed more carefully. --Trovatore 20:38, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Randomness, determinism and freckles[edit]

Dubious statement: "For example, genes and exposure to light only control the density of freckles that appear on a person's skin; whereas the exact location of individual freckles appears to be random."

Genes and exposure to light may very well not determine the location of individual freckles. But randomness in a scientific context has a more rigorous sense than something's simply not being determined by the causes in a particular (in this case, very short!) list. Even if freckle placement is random in some strong sense, it's not because these two factors don't suffice to determine it! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 06:01, 11 May 2007 (UTC).

In defence of the text, it only states "appears to be random" and not "is random"; the latter would indeed be an unscientific statement. I've further weakened it to "seems to be", which is also a stylistic improvement in view of the use of "to appear" earlier on in the sentence. --LambiamTalk 14:49, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
It is my opinion that there are a few things wrong in this article, but since i just have an IP address, I, like the Watcher, am forbidden to act.
Not at all, please be brave and fix anything you think is wrong (and if you back your fixes with references, it's extra good). If you want to, signing up for a non-IP user is easy and free. Haakon (talk) 14:18, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Sexual Orientation?[edit]

Is there any reason why this paragraph should stand. Is there an underlying agenda? It is unsourced and perhaps of dubious value; furthermore, what does it actually say? 'A person may or may not be homosexual and this may or may not be genetically/environmentally based and the standard science may or may not have an explanation for it." Well, my dog may or may not be named Spot, may or may not be either male or female, may or may not be black (though I guess a monochrome dog argues against the name Spot, so that's difficult, but it could just be irony), may or may not chase cats, and may or may not howl at the moon. So what?

In fact I just removed it because I see it has caused complaint some time ago. It seems like a red herring and somebody else can argue to put it back in.Griselinia 05:32, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Also, Is there anything to say that in fact randomness doesn't exist, it's just that we can't determine the underlying causation, or that randomness is viewpoint-determined? There's some mention of viewpoint in the article but perhaps not enough, if in fact this is an issue. I'd really like to know if it has been addressed other than philosophically. In other words, if you flip a coin and it lands heads up, this is strictly BECAUSE certain forces were applied in certain ways. If you repeat an exactly identical action the coin has, as I understand it, a %100 probability of landing heads up. Needless to say, this sort of thing would be extremely useful in Las Vegas.Griselinia 05:24, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

I think the article makes some hints in this direction, that "apparent randomness" (or unpredictablity) is often conflated with true randomness. I don't find the article's treatment of the distinction entirely satisfactory, but to say too much about it is likely to lead to some dangerous metaphysics (a la determinism). One thing I would like to see is some discussion of why some processes (such as occurring in quantum and statistical mechanics) are random, whereas others (such as your example of the coin toss) are merely unpredictable. On this latter point, Persi Diaconis designed a machine which would flip a coin to always land on heads. Silly rabbit 12:57, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but isn't "always" a bit of a stretch? What if an earthquake hits Stanford while the machine is running? I'm willing to bet some of the tosses might come out tails then. DavidCBryant 15:18, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Well any help you can give towards answering my question or improving the article would be greatly appreciated, but as yet you haven't started, DCB.Griselinia 03:40, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

I don't think the article can be improved by adding speculative content. I think the present split between randomness in science and randomness in religion is adequate.
The whole question of cause and effect is a fascinating one. Who says there's an "underlying cause" for anything? People do, because we've learned to think that way. But modern physics casts some doubt on the very notion of causality. For instance, in thermodynamics we learn that physical processes are irreversible, meaning that time flows in a certain direction, from past to future. But one of the more interesting chapters in Richard Feynman's textbook on physics discusses the fact that the solutions to Maxwell's equations are equally valid if time is considered to run backwards – we literally cannot tell if light is being emitted or absorbed without imposing our human notion of the direction of time on the experiment. Here's another example. Certain physical interactions involving the weak force can apparently run in either direction. Physicists say that we could run the movie backwards, and nobody would be able to tell the difference. So are all physical processes irreversible? Or not?


The best answer I can give is based on the law of large numbers. QM says that events at the atomic level are truly random, in principle. But the odds are that macroscopic events will appear to be deterministic, because the chance of something "out of the ordinary" happening is extraordinarily small. So it's literally not correct to say "if you flip a coin and it lands heads up, this is strictly BECAUSE certain forces were applied in certain ways." It was also BECAUSE the random interactions among the particles of which the coin is composed didn't do anything truly extraordinary while that coin was in the air. In principle there's a probability – admittedly very small, but greater than zero – that the atoms in the coin will dissociate on one of the coin flips so that the metal boils away, and the coin you tossed just vanishes in a puff of smoke.
The point is that randomness is part of nature, to the best of our understanding. That's what I was driving at with the bit about the earthquake. Does something "cause" earthquakes? Presumably yes. But can we predict when the next one is going to occur? Objectively no. Our knowledge of the world is not perfect, and in principle it never can be perfect. In other words, the future is in large measure unknown to us, so questions about "underlying causes" or whether randomness is "viewpoint determined" are speculative questions that cannot be satisfactorily answered. DavidCBryant 12:17, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
Great response! That's pretty much what I gleaned from your earthquake example, but I'm very glad you so eloquently made it more generally known. Silly rabbit 12:27, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, DCB. That's superlative. No scientist/mathemetician am I but I can understand it to the best of my abilities. As an aside, in legal matters, 'causation' is determined by a judge, that is, whatever the law will take into account no matter how nonsensical. It can make or break you in a lawsuit, so be forewarned... But seriously, it is a concept most of us use but don't really have any handle on. Griselinia 00:46, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

DCB you are talking about the arrow of time above. Most of physics is time symmetric. Thermodynamics is reversible; it is a tendency for systems to gain entropy. Consider, any motion of atoms that can occur in one direction, can occur in reverse. The problem is in explaining why entropy was lower in the past.Phoenix1177 (talk) 11:02, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Also, we can still say that the coin did what it did based upon the forces applied, it just happens to be the case that forces do not behave classically. Furthermore, randomness does not undermine causality; it only undermines the extent of what we can know about nature and with what prescion it can be known. Also, QM does not say that things are "truly random" at the atomic level; it says that there is some randomness, but everything is not equiprobable. Lastly, the future being unknown does not force talk of underlying causes to be empty; science is not predictive in the sense of telling us what will happen tommorow, but in the sense of demonstratable regularity in nature.Phoenix1177 (talk) 11:16, 2 January 2008 (UTC)


This article badly needs protection. When i decided to go on a vandalism spree, i couldn't think of a page so i searched for random. A quick look in the page's history shows that this happens frequently. 15:00, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

This is the most interesting protection request I've seen in a while. Protected for two weeks. CMummert · talk 15:28, 31 May 2007 (UTC)


In the section Randomness and religion there is a paragraph involving a reference to Qumran. It was added on April 1, 2007 – in this case just a random date.[1] As far as I can discern, the claims in this paragraph are largely made up of whole cloth. I corrected the blooper describing Qumran as a tribe, but actually (as you can read in the article on the Dead Sea scrolls) whether there was a sect living at Qumran at all is disputed – and if there was such a sect, it is unclear what role it played in the origins of "Judeo-Christian religion"(?). Unless I see references appearing in a reasonable amount of time, I intend to delete this paragraph.  --LambiamTalk 12:08, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

"That's so random"[edit]

Some of the younger editors have no doubt heard expressions like the above, "it was the most random episode ever", "I just randomly said hello", etc. Does this secondary slang meaning of "unusual, strange, improvised, capriciousness, etc" merit any kind of mention in the article? Eleland 20:22, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

First, you don't have to be that young. But no, it doesn't merit any mention. Wikipedia is not a dictionary and mere colloquialisms are not generally of encyclopedic interest (though an article about a particular colloquial dialect could be, and the usage could be mentined there). --Trovatore 20:35, 9 August 2007 (UTC)


Why does it redirect here? It makes no sense, since it does NOT mean something random. TheBlazikenMaster 15:30, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

It was just vandalism. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:47, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Proposed merge with Entropy (computing)[edit]

I don't see why an article about entropy generation in operating systems needs to be merged here. That is better covered as a separate topic. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:45, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

  • Oppose. These articles cover very different information — basically mathematics here, very specifically computing there. I've added Entropy (computing) to the Links related to generating randomness section, which seems to be the right place to connect these topics. Entropy (computing) already links Randomness in the lede. / edg 16:32, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Why? I don't see any advantage, only disadvantages.  --Lambiam 21:32, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

We should have a ranodm picture on this thing. Completely out of place.[edit]

Treynate2 21:28, 15 November 2007 (UTC)


The section Misconceptions/logical fallacies mentions a couple of "fallacies", stating that they are "logical" errors. Now, I believe in probability theory, and I do not believe in a deterministic, planned world, or in divine intervention. But I don't think such beliefs are logical fallacies. If you believe the roll of a die is or may be controlled by divine intervention, fate, or whatever, go ahead! And if you believe such mechanisms include that a result may be due or cursed, you may be at variance with experimental evidence, but not with laws of logic. - Am I rigth about this???--Niels Ø (noe) (talk) 08:49, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

It is a fallacy if you think the "therefore" is a justified logical deduction in "this outcome has come up less often in the past; therefore, it is more/less likely to come up in the future". This does not forbid you to believe the conclusion, but to claim that it is a logical consequence of the (true) premise makes this a fallacy.  --Lambiam 13:17, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
That is a clear reply, and one that I can only agree with. But would you agree that the article is slightly less clear about this? - FYI, I teach probability at high school level, and though I've never encountered a student who rejected probability theory as a valid model of the real world, I don't know what I'd say if someone did - an islamic determinist, say. Well, actually, I know exaclty what to reply: "That's an interesting point of view. However, in the exams next summer you are supposed to reply in accodance with the theory I here present..." I wouldn't be too proud of that answer, though.--Niels Ø (noe) (talk) 15:41, 27 November 2007 (UTC)


I've just added a mention of cleromancy in the section on religion. However, I now notice that it also is mentioned in the section on uses of randomness. It really belongs in both sections, I guess, but somehow the two mentions should be coordinated - be aware of each others, so to speak. If you see a reasonable way, WP:BB - i.e. go ahead!--Niels Ø (noe) (talk) 18:37, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Pope election[edit]

The Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is chosen from three candidates by chance, shouldn't this be added to the "randomness and religion" part ? I don't know if this is done anywhere else so I didn't add it. --George (talk) 05:13, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Although the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate is a religious institution, this selection procedure has little to do with a belief or world view informed by religion, which is what the section is about. It might be mentioned (very succinctly) in the section on Applications and use of randomness.  --Lambiam 17:32, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

It is completely about belief, this is not done for the election to be fair, it is done to reveal god's will about who should be the pope.--George (talk) 02:34, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

Can you give a reliable reference for that? In that case it should be mentioned primarily in the Cleromancy article.  --Lambiam 13:05, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

Actual Randomness?[edit]

I know that all this probability stuff is great, it's cool, and it fits the articloe, but shouldn't this page have something about words like chicken, flying monkeys, and othjer funny words that people seem to scream out and they call that random? When I hear the word random, I think of absurd shoutings and hijinks that are nearly non sequitur. We should have something about that for the general public who comes here looking for people finding a hobo trout balancing on a mustard bottle, then diving into it and coming out with a two-headed zebra. I know Wikipedia is not for sillyness on regular articles, but we should have a few mentions of that right? I'm just asking. -- (talk) 01:52, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Please no. Not of encyclopedic interest. --Trovatore (talk) 02:00, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

isnt everything of encyclopedic interest? you'd think so —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:37, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

Like other contributors, I'm annoyed by the frequent addition of such "random" stuff to this article, often with an edit summary like "This is random!". I'm not a native speaker, but if is right this is a common meaning of the word, I don't see why it shouldn't be briefly mentioned somewhere in the article (though it might be more relevant in a dictionnary). One could perhaps say something like this:
"The word random is sometimes used as a colloquialism for nonsense, e.g. for outburst that are non sequitur.
But is it a common usage, or minority slang?--Noe (talk) 14:38, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
It's a common usage, but Wikipedia is not a dictionary; it's not really our purpose to document usage. Since there is no worthy article to be written about that usage, in my opinion it should simply not be mentioned. --Trovatore (talk) 20:53, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps (if the problem is still an ongoing one) such an article could be started that would allow users interested in that usage of the word to defile it rather than this page? Caduon (talk) 07:19, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Interwiki es[edit]

Please add es:Aleatoriedad —Preceding unsigned comment added by Daniel G. (talkcontribs) 15:07, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Done (I didn't do it, though.)--Aervanath lives in the Orphanage 17:18, 3 November 2008 (UTC)



I find the definition a little confusing

Are events/phenomena that are of a complexity so great that the only way to model them is to create a 100% accurate copy of them. (And therefor render them unpredictable as the model can only be executed as fast as that which it models.) to be included in the set of Random?

I was taught that nothing is random, not event quantum expressions, only that the mathematics used to describe quantum events suggests that we may not be able to access their causal nature.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 15:33, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Not done: Please request a specific edit. Thank you,--Aervanath lives in the Orphanage 17:21, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

I Ching[edit]


Practitioners of I Ching do not believe that the selection is not Random but contains an acausal/correlation relationship with the greater univserse. If the Taoists believed the selection was Random, there would be no correlation. Some modern Taoist thinking even suggests divination can be performed from white noise or TV snow, as this is not truly random, but carries information about the universe accessible as the mind gradually (sub consciously) determines patterns in the information.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 15:44, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Not done:What exactly do you want changed?--Aervanath lives in the Orphanage 17:22, 3 November 2008 (UTC)


In a nutshell
This article presumes a priori that randomness means irreducible randomness, and 'essentially' pretends that reducible randomness doesn't exist. This is in spite of the fact that reducible randomness is the only form that can be definitively demonstrated, in special cases. So although fundamental limits prevent demonstrating reducible randomness in the general case, it also prevents the demonstration that irreducible randomness exist at all. This is not to say irreducible randomness doesn't exist, but this article is predicated on the notion that it is THE definition of randomness.

This article contains a great number of logical errors. So much so that I can must stick with the most egregious problems, such as:
Factually false statements
Non-neutral point of view
Agreed, but if you think about it, random is an opinion. Random means different things to different people. I say put all those ideas in (under different sub-headers). Maxudaskin (talk) 15:23, 24 April 2009 (UTC) Misleading information

Factually false statements:
Opening statement says, "Randomness is a lack of order, purpose, cause, or predictability". The problem is that randomness doesn't "necessarily" entail a lack of order, purpose, cause, or predictability, only that is can equally as well be modeled as such. In fact, as the article later admits it is quiet trivial for perfectly deterministic events to nonetheless be well modeled as "random". Gas laws are a good classical example. The impracticality of modeling every single molecule in a gas does not entail that those molecules lack order or cause, and purpose is well demonstrated by a refrigerator, though even the mention of "purpose" is suspect. The self same article admits this in the second sentence of the section "Randomness versus unpredictability", and gives another example. It then notes that "it is hard to know whether the process is 'truly random'". A designation not noted in the opening statements yet later uses the technical term for this as "irreducible randomness". Also referred to as "objectively random" elsewhere. That is three terms for "irreducible randomness" with no indication of the common definition. In fact it is not only hard, but impossible "know" a process is irreducibly random. This is because in order to prove irreducible randomness you must predict that which you are trying to prove can't be predicted. It can't even be done in pure mathematics. In mathematics it is mirrored because in order to prove irreducibility requires you to define the algorithm that you are trying to prove doesn't exist.

Gregory Chaitin
Irreducible Complexity in Pure Mathematics

This guy is using models that do not contain irreducible randomness (hidden variables).
Quantum-like Probabilistic Models outside Physics

These guys 'think' they've circumvented Godel's incompleteness theorem and can 'support' irreducible randomness.
Mathematical undecidability and quantum randomness
"Thus, it is important to realize that even the ``random samples are deterministic."

The point here is not that irreducible randomness doesn't exist. The issue is that this article presumes randomness is irreducible randomness in spite of the the fact that, not only is it not generally the case, it can't be known when something specific is irreducibly random, only when it is not. This issue goes at least as far back as 1686 when Gottfried Leibniz wrote Discourse on Metaphysics. It is therefore not independent research, it is part and parcel to the history of mathematics and physics.

Non-neutral point of view:
The above can certainly be claimed, by definition, if you assume a priori "irreducible randomness". Yet the entire article is predicated on the notion that "irreducible randomness" is in fact what "randomness" means, and proceeds with excessive non-authoritative statements on that predication. A meaning that can't be proved to exist, even in principle. Even with irreducible randomness it doesn't imply a lack of "order" any more than an irreducibly random gas implies unpredictable temperatures, especialy with the "repeated process" qualifier. Even in Quantum Mechanics the randomness is restricted to the degrees of freedom available to it.

The second sentence says, "A random process is a repeating process whose outcomes follow no describable deterministic pattern, but follow a probability distribution such that the relative probability of the occurrence of each outcome can be approximated or calculated". In fact this sentence contradicts itself and links to the wiki article on very pattern it says doesn't exist. What is then stated is that we are 'defining' this pattern as not a pattern. In fact every singular random variable contains this same signature pattern called the normal distribution. It is how non-random elements are detected in a data set even when the non-random elements are completely unknown (Leibniz, etc). If this statement was restricted to a single instance of a single random variable there could, in limited situations, be some truth to this. Yet the article not only specified a "process" but a "repeating" process. More generally a random process may be a process where the deterministic causes are well known, yet the random modeling is just as valid and greatly reduces the computational complexity.

Then there is this jewel: "Probability mechanics is a common name for a quasi-scientific theory common in science-fiction, that states, opposite the tenets of chaos theory and similarly to the idea of karma, that there are no truly random events; any event is a direct result of one or more events that have preceded it." This is just... silly. Apparently it came verbatim from, or visa versa though no reference was given. Undoubtedly science-fiction does play off an artistic license to subvert valid concepts. However, if you need some legitimate sources for the use of "probability mechanics" try these.
(1) Brand, P.R., Lewis, D.B. and Maes, M.A., (1996), "Reliability Based Design for Oil Country Tubular Goods", Proceedings of the 7th ASCE Specialty Conference on Probability Mechanics and Structural Reliability, Worcester, pp. 534-537.
(2) Alayne Gyetvai, MSe in probability mechanics from Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
"On 16th June 2000, a research agreement was signed between IFMA and EDF (French Electricity Company) giving birth to a team of researchers which is a world leader in management of industrial risks in the field of Probability Mechanics of materials and structures...."

This even neglects the historical, philosophical, and theoretical issues with respect to probability mechanics itself from which the science fiction played off of. Anybody here want to tell these people about their "quasi-scientific" degrees and research in probability mechanics? In fact the claim that the tenants themselves was contrary to "Chaos theory" and compatible with.. ummm.. "karma" itself was a science fiction claim, not an intrinsic truth. However, it did fit the biased perspective from which the article was written.

Statements predicated on irreducible randomness:
"Randomness is a lack of order, purpose, cause, or predictability."
"A random 'process' is a 'repeating' process whose outcomes follow no describable deterministic pattern,..."
"Randomness is an objective property."
"Probability mechanics is a common name for a quasi-scientific theory common in science-fiction, that states, opposite the tenets of chaos theory and similarly to the idea of karma, that there are no truly random events;..."

Every issue I have taken with this article thus far has been either implicitly or explicitly admitted to in the article itself.

Misleading information:
In the section "In the physical sciences" it says, "According to several standard interpretations of quantum mechanics, microscopic phenomena are objectively random". First off there is only one "standard" interpretation of Quantum Mechanics called the Copenhagen interpretation. Though there are many interpretations. It should be noted here that the theory of Quantum Mechanics is totally independent of any of the interpretations. This is a major misconception that causes a lot of difficulty on physics forums IMO. It is the popularization of this very "interpretation" (not theory) of Quantum Mechanics that has made the bias presented in this article so widespread.

By leading with "interpretations" of Quantum Mechanics then 'implying' that all causally relevant parameters of an experiment can be controlled (false even in a classical experiment), then stating "Thus quantum mechanics does not specify the outcome of individual experiments but only the probabilities" further conflates the distinction between Quantum Mechanics and its' interpretations, again biasing toward irreducible randomness. Also implied here is that irreducible randomness is the de facto "truth" in Quantum Mechanics, even in principle. The truth is that such an stance, explicitly stated, is a logical fallacy called argument from ignorance, that is it can't be proved false so it must be so.

What followed 'should' have ameliorated these misleading statements somewhat.
"Hidden variable theories are inconsistent with the view that nature contains irreducible randomness: such theories posit that in the processes that appear random, properties with a certain statistical distribution are somehow at work "behind the scenes" determining the outcome in each case."
Yet here it is admitted that such theories exist in Quantum Mechanics, that has the same properties referred to as "quasi-scientific theory common in science-fiction" in reference to Probability Mechanics, that are in opposition to Chaos theory. This statement also uses the proper term "irreducible randomness" whereas much of the previous bias was presented with alternative terms, such as "truly random" and "objectively random". Yet no indication was given that these are the same terms.

The problems are too severe to patch as far as I can tell. I have no choice but to, at the least, dispute the accuracy. There remains an issue with neutral point of view and other less serious issues. --My wan (talk) 10:21, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

There's a lot above. I haven't read all of it, and I'm not a mathematician, physicist, or philosopher, but I use the concepts of randomness a lot. I either can't follow your argument or disagree. Here's a statement you make which is wrong:
  1. "The second sentence says, "A random process is a repeating process whose outcomes follow no describable deterministic pattern, but follow a probability distribution such that the relative probability of the occurrence of each outcome can be approximated or calculated". In fact this sentence contradicts itself and links to the wiki article on very pattern it says doesn't exist. What is then stated is that we are 'defining' this pattern as not a pattern. In fact every singular random variable contains this same signature pattern called the normal distribution."
It's certainly not true that all random variables follow the normal distribution--again I'm not sure if I misunderstand you, or you have a misunderstanding. The sentence you say contradicts itself does not, because it explicitly says, "outcomes follow no describable 'deterministic' pattern".
In general it appears that you have some problem with the idea that randomness exists. Whether or not it exists, it's a useful idea, like truth. The ideas described in this article mostly match those I see used in both informal and formal situations. I don't intend to argue these points much, unless it becomes truly necessary, just wanted to put in my 2c. CRETOG8(t/c) 16:14, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

No, I do not have a problem with the idea that randomness exists, quiet to the contrary. There is not even anything wrong with the concepts themselves presented here, properly defined. Even with respect to my criticism if falls under the category of "undecidability". The problem results from an a priori assumption that a particular flavor of randomness, called irreducible randomness, is the de facto definition of randomness itself, to the exclusion of a more general understanding of randomness. As a matter of fact, as I documented above, it is irreducible randomness the can't be demonstrated due to fundamental limits in mathematic and science. So although reducible randomness can be demonstrated, the same fundamental limits prevent the demonstration that it is the general case. Why then does this article assume irreducible randomness is THE de facto definition, to the exclusion of reducible randomness? In fact 'essentially' pretends there is no such thing in spite of the fact that it is the only form that can actually be demonstrated, in special cases.
With respect to not all random variables following the normal distribution, this is true if the variable is a 'random conglomerate', or the degree of freedom have been restricted by some mechanism. A single ensemble can in fact be derived from multiple ensembles.

--My wan (talk) 23:54, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

WP:TLDR. siℓℓy rabbit (talk) 00:11, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Added section: In a nutshell for quick reading. --My wan (talk) 00:41, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, your gripe boils down to saying you would like it acknowledged that the word radomness is sometimes used to refer to what would be called pseudorandomness in the terminology of the article. Surely this criticism can be handled without making a "factual accuracy" case out of it. --Trovatore (talk) 01:39, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
It would be reasonable that, with some minor modification, the article is simply biased rather tha factually inacurate, due the fundamental undecidability. The science-fiction under "Probability Mechanics" and authoritative statements like "Randomness is an objective property" needs fixed. This property here called "objective" can't even be defined in mathematics, and requires the a priori assumption of irreducible randomness. Consider the statement, radomness is sometimes used to refer to pseudorandomness, yet pseudorandomness is the only kind of randomness that mathematics can define. Irreducibility is built on the assumption that what can't be defined never can, even in principle (argument from ignorance). Any 'truly' random sequence must be recursively random, yet no recursively random sequence can be 'truly' random. These fundamental issues must be a part of any "honest" description of randomness. I don't mean to argue that pseudorandomness is all there is, but I must specify these issues to make the bias understood. --My wan (talk) 16:27, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
So I don't see any great value to the statement randomness is an objective property and wouldn't mind seeing it gone, and likewise the whole "Probability Mechanics" section, which I think is a recent addition, should be removed; it looks like WP:OR.
However the rest of your remarks I find fairly incomprehensible. Why should randomness be definable mathematically, for example? It's not a purely mathematical concept, so there is no requirement that "mathematics [be able to] define [it]". Throwing around "undecidability" doesn't help either (I wonder if you've been misled by fringe interpretations such as Chaitin's). --Trovatore (talk) 19:21, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
Strictly speaking randomness is defined by a series of values, with ranges defined by the degrees of freedom, in which no single value is dependent on previous values in whole or in part. This is independent of purpose, cause, or even predictability. With regard to predictability it only entails that no information is contained in the resulting values, including information about purpose, cause, or predictors. For example, if a message is encrypted with a 'purely' random number, cryptography is predicated on the notion that the encrypted string is random. Yet it does in fact contain a non-random message. If you call it not 'truly' random but pseudorandom, what happens when you encrypt a 'truly' random number with another? Public keys use non-random but computationally complex numbers, i.e., primarily large primes.
Fundamentally randomness is about the state of knowledge or information, not about the absence of externals like causes. The article stating authoritatively that randomness entails the absence of things external to itself sounds fringe to me, it is a purely metaphysical claim. So have I been influenced by the fringe. You tell me. Should I research a list of heavy hitting academics that concur? I don't know enough about Chaitin to comment.--My wan (talk) 23:04, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

In talking with people about this Quantum Mechanics seems to provide the primary motivation for the beliefs this article is biased toward. On that I searched the literature. I think the caliber of references here is high enough as to leave little doubt.

Elias P. Gyftopoulos, Ford Professor Emeritus of Nuclear Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Entropy: An inherent, nonstatistical property of any system in any state

Gerard 't Hooft Determinism beneath Quantum Mechanics Abstract:

Contrary to common belief, it is not difficult to construct deterministic models where stochastic behavior is correctly described by quantum mechanical amplitudes, in precise accordance with the Copenhagen-Bohr-Bohm doctrine. What is difficult however is to obtain a Hamiltonian that is bounded from below, and whose ground state is a vacuum that exhibits complicated vacuum fluctuations, as in the real world. Beneath Quantum Mechanics, there may be a deterministic theory with (local) information loss. This may lead to a sufficiently complex vacuum state, and to an apparent non-locality in the relation between the deterministic ("ontological") states and the quantum states, of the kind needed to explain away the Bell inequalities. Theories of this kind would not only be appealing from a philosophical point of view, but may also be essential for understanding causality at Planckian distance scales.

Based on these and other sources, as well as previous arguements, I will be considering the best way to articulate a neutral definition for the opening post. The present bias should not get neglected in the article. The issue goes both ways. I will now be moving to edit this article to the best of my ability. I would much appreciate any input, especially anything found objectionable. --My wan (talk) 06:36, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

I haven't read the papers you linked, and I'm unlikely to participate in detailed discussion on QM. However, the abstract above doesn't say anything which brings into doubt the ideas of randomness expressed in this article. You can certainly be bold and start editing, but since this matter hasn't been settled yet, you might expect WP:BRD. CRETOG8(t/c) 13:20, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

My wan, here 't Hooft does not appear to be talking about randomness, but about whether quantum mechanics may fail to be random despite appearances. If it's deterministic, it isn't random; this is just the meaning of the word. Your references do not contradict this. This article should not be primarily about whether quantum mechanics is truly random — that's more for the interpretations of quantum mechanics article.

Now, there is a mathematical notion (or more accurately, quite a number of distinct mathematical notions) called "randomness", usually applying to real numbers or to sequences of discrete values, that as you say do not refer to causality. There's Kolmogorov randomness and Martin-Löf randomness and randomness based on martingales (IIRC these turn out to be the same for the simplest notion, but are conceptually different and could potentially have different generalizations). There's randomness in the sense of random real forcing. There's n-randomness and strong n-randomness for different values of n. These would be worthy topics to mention here, with pointers to more detailed articles on them. But these are technical abstractions meaningful within mathematics; they're not what people understand by real-world randomness, which I think is what this article should be primarily about. (Whether it exists or not is a different question — even if it doesn't exist that's not an argument not to have an article about it.) --Trovatore (talk) 15:26, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

No not randomness per se, yet it speaks to the notion of randomness defined a priori as something that doesn't exist if deterministic laws are fully general. In fact, randomness is an immensely important tool, irrespective of randomness as a fundamental property or not. The absolute randomness you imply is the singular definition is a huge bias.
Yes, quiet a few mathematical notions in the art. Why then the singular notion presented here as the de facto notion? You say they're not what people understand by real-world randomness. Why would anybody come here to learn what their mother means by randomness? There are basic classes that aren't that difficult to describe in plain english.--My wan (talk) 22:41, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
If randomness doesn't exist, that still doesn't mean that it isn't what the article should be about. Real-world randomness implies indeterminism. That's just what the word means. The mathematical notions are very interesting (I'm in Washington DC right now for the Joint Mathematical Meetings and tomorrow will hear a talk by Joe Miller, one of the leading researchers in this field), and ought to be treated in Wikipedia — but not as the main topic of an article entitled randomness. (The usual term is something like algorithmic randomness, though that's a little misleading, because it sounds as though the randomness tests and so on are limited to the computable, which is not true.) --Trovatore (talk) 03:09, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
At what point did I indicate that randomness didn't exist? In fact the first sentence indicates the opposite, even if deterministic laws are fully general. The only way you can represent my statement as indicating "randomness doesn't exist" is to refuse any but the one definition that constitutes the bias that is at issue. This is why so many want to input their brand of belief here, because without justification, the bias presents a singular rejection of any but the bias. You have stated that many definitions exist, why then the singular insistance? Why not begin with the simplest operational definition and let the details become more apparent in more detailed sections? It's a lot easier to chew Kolmogorov and Martin-Löf randomness if the core operational definition is not poluted with this bias. You can't begin with a fully generalized (idealized) version of randomness as the definition, then expect to talk about the manner in which it is generalized to be comprehensible.--My wan (talk) 00:58, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Disputed: Randomness is a lack of cause[edit]

{{editsemiprotected}} The first sentence says Randomness is a lack of order, purpose, cause, or predictability, however a few dictionary searches don't reveal a mention of cause in their definitions. The rest of the article doesn't mention randomness being a lack of cause either. I think the word "cause" needs to be removed from the lead. If it stays it needs to be referenced. One square on the chessboard (talk) 03:05, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

The request is to change the line saying "Randomness is a lack of order, purpose, cause, or predictability" to "Randomness is a lack of order, purpose, cause{{fact}}, or predictability". One square on the chessboard (talk) 02:34, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Added citation tag. --Unpopular Opinion (talk) 05:37, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Disputed: Randomness[edit]

the less we define it the better. get rid of order, purpose and cause. doesnt lend anything to the meaning.

Why not define "Randomness is a lack of predictability"

is not that what Chaitin is saying. joe (talk) 05:48, 19 January 2009 (UTC)joe

Chaitin has done some good mathematics, though not as good as he thinks. But his interpretations as a general rule can't be taken seriously. --Trovatore (talk) 07:26, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Chaitin is a character, and has to be taken seriously; doesn't mean he'll bat 1000. anyone venturing into neuroscience steps on many toes. In any event, the definition of randomness is too complicated. joe (talk) 14:53, 20 January 2009 (UTC)joe

cursed section & hazard[edit]

The article says, that while it might be worthwhile to check if events of seemingly same probability indeed happen equally frequently in particular case, such observation is irrelevant when it comes to hazard games, like roulette.

This is probably to visualize the point, that no event is more or less likely to happen because it did/did not happen frequently in the past, when we are sure that events are equally probable. What is wrong, is that the example is invalid - hazard games are a perfect example of where method of observation can be succesfully applied to increase our odds of winning. In fact, i know of at least one person (and there is for sure crowd of similar cases), who is forbidden to play at casinos in Las Vegas, because they would calculate the odds, making the expected outcome of some games better than the cost, and in result instead of pumping money into, sucking it *from* the casino.

Not being serious, but the particular part of article i'm speaking about sounds, like it was written by some casino owner, discouraging people from this method.

Please notify me in my discussion if you reply to this, or apply relevant changes to the article. Thanks in advance. 22:55, 20 January 2009 (UTC)Kshinji (talk)

A random process follows 'a probability distribution'?[edit]

If they followed a probability distribution, they wouldn't be random. The expression here should be 'fall within' or an equivalent rather than 'follow'.

article difficulties probably inevitable, but WP deserves better, nonetheless[edit]

I've revised the intro in an attempt to make it read better. It needed help. We are here enjoined to write brilliant prose, and that was particularly non-brilliant. My adjustment is hardly the last word, but at least isn't as bad.

Randomness is difficult for us to think and talk about, perhaps because of culture or even brain wiring. It involves contingency, infinite series (at least in principle), and patterns (or lack thereof) we are poorly equipped to notice. That English, at least, uses the same word for a great many different things in contexts as disparate as religion to gambling merely adds to the fun.

In this article, however, there is a section which deals with a reather less foggy business, and that's the mathematics section. It is, as it stands now, a Wiki embarrassment. Some of what is said is reasonable, but a great deal is confused at best and entirely unacceptable at worst. One of the mathematicians who have commented above should consider a major re-write. ww (talk) 08:37, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

crystal martin is cool —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:44, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

sooo........peeps theres alota dispute against import vs. domestic cars —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gsx ricer (talkcontribs) 00:10, 21 April 2009 (UTC)


I can't find the Aristotle definition anywhere.

Randomness, as defined by Aristotle[citation needed], is the situation when a choice is to be made which has no logical component by which to determine or make the choice (see Buridan's ass).

I have removed it until something useful comes along.Myrvin (talk) 10:23, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Randomness v. Nonlinear narrative[edit]

I think it'd probably be a cool idea to add the concept of the separation of randomness and nonlinearity, because they are extremely different concepts. Like whether there are parameters, plot, reason or rhyme, whatever, or if its completely unpredictable and , well, random. However, I personally only know the differences between them in the context of digital media and the internet, with literature and hypertexts. Maybe if someone knows more about this debate, they could add a section?

In Statistics...[edit]

Also, in statistics, as:

Governed by or involving equal chances for each of the actual or hypothetical members of a population; (also) produced or obtained by such a process, and therefore unpredictable in detail.

The above quotation from the article is false. What is being described is a discrete uniform distribution [2]. This section should be removed in favor of something that describes random variables in general and links to the random variable page. Also, it should read "in probability and statistics", and not just "in statistics", as random variables are used in both disciplines.

I agree. Confusing randomness in general with uniform random variables is one of the most common mistakes people make about the subject. The whole statement is unnecessary, given the next paragraph about statistics and probability distributions. I've removed it, and made a few edits to the paragraphs immediately after, including a link to the random variable article. The confusion about “random” meaning “uniformly distributed random” is so common, I propose we write a paragraph about it under “Misconceptions logical fallacies”. I have not done this yet. Jollyroger131 (talk) 22:28, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

I would like to expand the explanation of randomness in statistics. It would be useful for readers to have this longer explanation:

Randomness, one of the words that has the highest frequency of appearances in statistics, basically, is made up by uncertain and fair. The outcome has to be unsure and unpredictable, that is, nobody would know the outcome, and nobody can control and influence the tendency or outcome. Usually, randomness is required in collecting data, and there are four simple and basic sampling methods that use randomization: simple random sampling, stratified random sampling, cluster sampling, and systematic sampling. Randomization is also used to assign experimental units to treatment group in experiments. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:11, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

Is this accurate?[edit]

"However, the probability of rolling any one of the six rollable numbers can be calculated, assuming that each is equally likely." The probability of rolling a certain number can be calculated even if the die is weighted; however, it may not be 1/6. --Givengels (talk) 14:15, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

You might be able to calculate the probabilities for a weighted die, but it would be a fairly difficult physics problem, and really my guess is that the best you could ever do is approximate it. On the other hand, if the die is assumed fair, then each probability is exactly 1/6, and you don't have to think about the physics at all. --Trovatore (talk) 20:46, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Buddhism, Karma, and Randomness[edit]

Buddhist philosophy states that any event is the result of previous events (karma), and as such, there is no such thing as a random event or a first event.

The above excerpt is false. Buddhism does not state that all events are the result of karma. Buddhists also recognize natural occurrences exist (e.g. An avalanche or massive tsunami would not always be caused by karma, for most prominent doctrinal interpretations of Buddhism. Another, more universal, example: a Buddhist would say a falling object is the result of natural law (gravity), not karma.). The excerpt should either be omitted or changed to something that accounts for this. For a source, Reverend Kusala Bhikshu often clarifies this during his talks posted in the Urban Dharma podcast. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:44, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Is PI random ?[edit]

The section In mathematics states:

"The central idea is that a string of bits is random if and only if it is shorter than any computer program that can produce that string (Kolmogorov randomness)—this means that random strings are those that cannot be compressed. Pioneers of this field include Andrey Kolmogorov and his student Per Martin-Löf, Ray Solomonoff, and Gregory Chaitin."

But do exist a program that can calculate N digits of PI and is shorter than N digits, so those N digits are not random. But moreover the article state:

"Randomness is said to occur in numbers such as log (2) and Pi.[...]"

And now I'm confused. Is PI random or not ? ~ƒoאŁoɠicƙtalk 10:30, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

No, pi is not random. No computable number can be random, by any of the standard definitions of algorithmic randomness.
Just the same, it's pretty random. As far as anyone knows (though no one's been able to prove it), the decimal digits of pi are a fairly strong (though not very fast) pseudorandom number generator. --Trovatore (talk) 21:57, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I've noticed the same problem and tagged it in the text. If "digits of pi are random" means "pi is a normal number", then the answer is unknown, this is still an open problem. That pi is not random in the sense of algorithmic information theory is clear. GregorB (talk) 19:53, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I was going to change the tag to dubious, but removing the sentence is even better. GregorB (talk) 19:55, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
The real problem (or shall I say imaginary problem, if you rotate it 90 degrees) is that the Wiki-article on Random sequence is almost as junk as this article. I have a hard time deciding which of the Wiki articles on random sequences etc. are lower quality - they all have junk tags at the top and they all contradict each other in non-random ways. I think I will toss a coin to decide which article is worse... just kidding... History2007 (talk) 20:04, 9 March 2010 (UTC)


I feel like several citations are needed foe the introductory definitions of randomness. Although the OED is credited, there may be other OED definitions under the same word. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:54, 29 January 2010 (UTC) Bill obviously loves Kristian more than she loves him. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ummthatguy (talkcontribs) 03:40, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Article quality[edit]

I came across this article, and it is really a set of random thoughts at best. Sentences such as: Humankind has been concerned with random physical processes from early history. with no references do not do a lot, and a lot of incorrect statements are spread throughout. A few mathematicians are named, but by and large it is a low quality article. There are just 7 references, 3 or 4 of which are useless - so the article is effectively reference free.

I also came across a gem of an article: Applications of randomness which has 3 references, 2 of which are refs to Aristotle. That needs to be figured out too along with this gem here. I am not sure who watches this page, but before I tear up the page and start anew comments will be appreciated. If people want to help rewrite it, we can do that too. Thanks. History2007 (talk) 15:10, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Digits of pi[edit]

I don't have Herbert David's book to hand — could History2007 please clarify in what sense Venn "showed" the randomness of pi's digits (decimal digits?) "by using them to construct a random walk in two dimensions". If this just means he used the digits, say, to give a direction and distance to the random walker, and then said "hey, this looks random", well, that's "showing randomness" in some empirical sense. Given my realist/empiricist foundational views, I can agree that it's even a meaningful claim to some extent. But mathematical readers are likely to be expecting it to mean a proof of some well-defined claim, and it would surprise me if Venn had done such a thing.

As yet, to my knowledge, almost nothing non-trivial has actually been proved about the decimal expansion of pi. For example, could there be a point after which the decimal expansion consists entirely of 4s and 7s? No, that's ridiculous; of course there is no such point. But as far as I know no one has actually proved it. --Trovatore (talk) 22:01, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

These days to hand is no longer applicable. I don't have it either. The ref is in Google books, but I looked elsewhere and there were details of the construction online too, but I don't remember where now, although it involved jumping around a lattice of some type. Anyway, the statement is in the ref for sure. Of course Venn was long before Chaitin and company, so his def of random was non-algo. History2007 (talk) 22:08, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, it may well be, but that isn't the whole point. The point is that it's not clear what it's supposed to mean. We shouldn't just blindly copy meaningless statements, even if sourceable. --Trovatore (talk) 22:10, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Maybe you want to do a few searches? History2007 (talk) 22:11, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
You're the one who added the problematic text, so the burden is on you. --Trovatore (talk) 22:12, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
The statement does NOT say it is or is not, but that Venn says he proved it. History2007 (talk) 22:13, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
No, it actually doesn't say he said he proved it. It says he "showed" it. Show is sometimes taken to be weaker than prove, so it's possible that it's true in some sense. But it needs to be clarified. Please do not add material unless you can make it clear what it's supposed to mean. --Trovatore (talk) 22:14, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Sure, sure. I would not want to reduce the quality of this pristine article now, would I? History2007 (talk) 22:19, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Your new version of the Venn statement is better than it was before, but also less interesting. I was hoping you could actually find out, and add to the article, what the thing meant, rather than just weakening the statement. As it stands it's not clear why the reader should care. If the reader shouldn't care, then it shouldn't be there. --Trovatore (talk) 22:22, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Just forget it. This is a dumb discussion. Delete it, I do not care about this junk set of sentences pretending to be an article here. I was going to start to clean up the mess here, but now I will not bother. You are the guardian of this dump, you clean it up. History2007 (talk) 22:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

What to add to this page:[edit]

  1. A picture
  2. A Table of Contents —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hi Im Random (talkcontribs) 19:39, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

What does non-random mean?[edit]

What does non-random mean? There is no wikipedia page that lays out the different ideas under this rubric. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:49, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Non-randomness means to have some presence of bias, where bias is an effect that influences outcomes of events such that one or many results are disproportionately more likely or unlikely to occur than any other observable event. Randomness is a theoretical entity; there is no possible way to generate truly random numbers nor to observe a truly random event. There is always some form of influence upon generated numbers, no matter how small. Pseudorandom numbers generated by Pseudorandom number generators are numbers that have a lot of the desired properties of randomness, such as a lack of predictability and no influence upon itself, but these generators still require some form of non-random input. JaeDyWolf ~ Baka-San (talk) 20:42, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Pending changes[edit]

This article is one of a number (about 100) selected for the early stage of the trial of the Wikipedia:Pending Changes system on the English language Wikipedia. All the articles listed at Wikipedia:Pending changes/Queue are being considered for level 1 pending changes protection.

The following request appears on that page:

Comments on the suitability of theis page for "Penfding changes" would be appreciated.

Please update the Queue page as appropriate.

Note that I am not involved in this project any much more than any other editor, just posting these notes since it is quite a big change, potentially

Regards, Rich Farmbrough, 23:40, 16 June 2010 (UTC).

Indeterminism is underemphasized[edit]

DMacks recent reversion, here, may have been correct; I understand the rationale for not wanting to state flatly that randomness implies indeterminism.

On the other hand, in my usage, which I think is quite ordinary, the phrase "true randomness" definitely implies absolute indeterminism (not merely lack of predictability even in principle). This is distinct from, say, algorithmic randomness, which is indeed about lack of predictability in certain precise ways, and does not exclude that the outcome is predetermined in some sufficiently abstract sense.

I am not sure just where to find citations, but I believe that it is not reasonable to leave indeterminism out of the lead. --Trovatore (talk) 20:40, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

Completely wrong example[edit]

To quote it:

If we are told that a woman has two children, and one of them is a girl, what are the odds that the other child is also a girl? Considering this new child independently, one might expect the odds that the other child is female are 1/2 (50%). By using mathematician Gerolamo Cardano's method of building a Probability space (illustrating all possible outcomes), we see that the odds are actually only 1/3 (33%). This is because, for starters, the possibility space illustrates 4 ways of having these two children: boy-boy, girl-boy, boy-girl, and girl-girl (assuming the children will be so simply gendered). But we were given more information. Once we are told that one of the children is a female, we use this new information to eliminate the boy-boy scenario. Thus the probability space reveals that there are still 3 ways to have two children where one is a female: boy-girl, girl-boy, girl-girl. Only 1/3 of these scenarios would have the other child also be a girl.

This is wrong because the order of the children is irrelevant. Boy-girl and girl-boy are the same case. There were not four initial cases, there were three (two boys, two girls, one of each) because the order has absolutely no bearing on the problem.

References to news articles written by laypersons should not be used for mathematical concepts.

Telanis (talk) 20:38, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

A better source would be good, but this is a standard result and there is really no controversy about it. This talk page is not really the place to explain why; you could bring it up at WP:RD/MATH if you like. --Trovatore (talk) 21:23, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
It is redundant to express order in this problem. If you wish to express GB and GB, then you must express BB and BB, as unique. To simplify the problem, the pair of children can either be BB, BG, or GG. If the women tells you one of her children is a boy - the chances are that she is referring to a B, in the BB pair, is twice as high as the chances she is referring to the single B, in the BG pair. In other words, there are 3 possible boys from BB, BG, and GG , that the women may be referring to, and it is twice as probable that she is referring to a B from the BB pair - hence, it is twice as likely that her other child is a B. Yet another way to explain it: If you ask a bunch of people to randomly select one of the B's from the set [BB, BG, GG], the chances are twice as high, that they would select one of the Bs from the BB (pair). \u2014 Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:03, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

These two comments express a common fallacy about probability. It is not enough to merely "count cases," as they do. If it were, you could argue that there are two "cases" in a lottery: "win," and "lose," so the chances of winning must be 50%. Or, using their own examples, they say the probability of the exact combinations {BB, BG, GB, GG} are {1/3,1/6,1/6,1/3}. This means that, if one's first child is a girl, then the chances the second will be born a girl must be P(GG)/[P(GB)+P(GG)]=(1/3)/[(1/6)+(1/3)]=2/3. This is clearly wrong.

The correct usage of {BB, BG, GB, GG} does not say that order matters to the gender of either, but that identifying which child is which matters to how to count cases. You could use "first" to mean the elder, the first one you meet, the one who sits first (clockwise from Mother) at the dinner table, or whose name is alphabetically first. Essentially, once you identify a child (in a way that does not depend on gender, so "taller" isn't a good way), that child has a 50% chance to be a girl, or a boy. Since this applies to both, the chances of GG (50%)*(50%)=25%.

But the question itself is indeed flawed: you need to know why you were told there is a girl. The "1/3" solution here makes the same mistake that the "don't bother to switch" solution makes in Monty Hall. That mistake is due to thinking Door #3 had to be opened because it had a goat, when it is possible for Door #2 to be opened if both have goats. This one assumes you had to be told about a girl because there was a girl, when being told that there is a boy is not excluded when the family is BG. I'll fix it. JeffJor (talk) 13:50, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Completely wrong example[edit]

To quote it:

If we are told that a woman has two children[citation needed], and one of them is a girl, what are the odds that the other child is also a girl?

Clearly the chances of the other child being a girl are zero (0%). If the other were a girl, a truthful person would have told us that the woman had two children and "two/both" of them are girls. Of course, on wikipedia the answer would be: Please put a reference as regards who said that the woman only had one daughter? The odds are entirely determined by the reliability of the source.Leutha (talk) 18:40, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, here you have some sort of a point. What is beyond doubt (and what the passage is trying to convey) is that given the standard assumptions for this sort of problem, which of course are not quite true) the conditional probability that both children are girls, given that one is a girl, is 1/3.
But I agree that that is not necessarily the same as the conditional probability given that I am told that one is a girl. Why am I being told this piece of information in such an unusual, evasive-sounding form? My analysis of that question may well influence my Bayesian update. This is the same sort of issue that comes up at Monty Hall problem.
We could try to reword it, saying e.g. that I am the one who asks whether at least one is a girl, and the responder must answer truthfully and is limited to "yes" or "no". Anyone have a source for that sort of formulation? --Trovatore (talk) 19:21, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
How about, "A woman has two children and it is known that one is a girl, what is the probability that both are girls?" JaeDyWolf ~ Baka-San (talk) 19:56, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
I also disagree with the citation needed tag; there is no actual specific woman we're talking about, nor an actual specific example in the media that is explicitly being referred to; it's a generic example and therefore can't actually have a citation. JaeDyWolf ~ Baka-San (talk) 20:01, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
The whole example is complete bollocks. If we take the four possible options: boy-boy, boy-girl, girl-boy, girl-girl then when given information that one child is a girl, we can remove first two options since we're observing the "first" child. That leaves only the options girl-boy and girl-girl which gives us the probability of 2/4 = 50%. I suggest you remove the whole example. It's completely flawed and leads to false conclusions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:15, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
I read a bit about the problem and it seems to actually be just badly worded not complete bollocks :). If it's rewritten to remove all the ambiguity, it can stay. Here's a description of the problem in detail: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:42, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
The example is truly incorrect. If you're not taking the order of the children into account, then boy-girl and girl-boy are not distinct outcomes but effectively the same (e.g. 1 and 1), and so you're left with only 2 options, therefore P=1/2=0.5 (which is what you'd expect since there's no inherent order and the gender of one child does not conditionally determine the gender of the other).
I, too, consider this is not a proper example for the section in which it is located, because it talks about how the odds change when we get new information about the reality, which implies a 2-steps scenario in which we first calculate the odds based on some knowledge and then we're given more information which causes the odds to change. Monty Hall is a classical example, but the children example doesn't really apply because we're never given "more" information, we're given all the information at the very beginning, so we never get to see the change. Perhaps if we rephrase it to ask first to calculate the probability of 2 girls and then (afterwards) we're told that one of them is a girl, in which case we have the 2-step scenario necessary to show how odds change (Remember the point is to present an example of how the odds change). Personally, I'd vote to remove the example and leave Monty Hall as the key example here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:16, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

This example completely ignores the concept of permutations vs combinations. Take 6/49 as an example. My chances of picking all six numbers correctly using the formula for combinations is 13,983,816. This is because the order of the numbers does not matter. {1,2,3,4,5,6} is counted the same as {6,5,4,3,2,1}. Using the formula for permutations the 6/49 example would yield 10,068,347,520. The number is much larger because all permutations are considered i.e. {1,2,3,4,5,6} and { 6,5,4,3,2,1} and {4,6,2,1,3,4}... etc are considered as being separate entities. Mathematically, both calculations are correct. It just depends which formula is relevant to the issue at hand. In the 6/49 example the formula for combinations is the relevant one to use. I believe it is similar for the boy girl example also. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:00, 9 June 2012 (UTC)


Lead too long? (talk) 20:37, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

math is not a science[edit]

Many contents are missleading as so many people pointed out. a good structure will be 1. philosophical aspect 2. mathematical aspect (which is a prt of the philosophical one) 3. application in nature science

thank you — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shuozi (talkcontribs) 18:20, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Edit request on 10 August 2012[edit]

The section called Odds are never dynamic is incorrect in its second paragraph stating that if a couple has two children and one is a daughter what are the chances that the other is a daughter. The author says there are 4 ways to have two children: B/B, B/G, G/B, and G/G but the original question doesn't differentiate B/G and G/B from each other (the order of their birth is irrelevant) so it is actually a 1 in 2 chance that the second child is a female. The paragraph in question refers to another page called Boy or Girl Paradox which confirms my point. (talk) 06:10, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Not done: please make your request in a "change X to Y" format. Mdann52 (talk) 05:55, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Does the word "randomness" make sense?[edit]

It is very difficult to define the word "randomness", and I'm wondering whether this is because the word doesn't make sense. We think we know what "randomness" means, but when we concentrate hard on what it means, the concept starts to give way.

I notice that the "Shorter Oxford Dictionary" makes no attempt to define the word "pseudorandom".

I'm wondering whether the concept of "randomness" is like the concept of "universal time" - we think it exists, and it's helpful to think slightly vaguely that it does exist, but it doesn't exist.

I'm wondering whether, instead of saying "a random event", we should say, "a dicelike event".

I'm wondering whether a possible definition of a "random outcome" could be "an outcome with unknown, or partially unknown, causes".

Human beings like to predict things, but we can't predict the fall of a dice. Instead of saying, "I can't predict the fall of this dice", we say, "the fall of this dice is random", which makes us feel better. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Martin1000 (talkcontribs) 16:50, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

Please remove the section on "Ignoring Variance"[edit]

(Sorry for the double post, see Edit Request below). Hybridpete (talk) 12:34, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Edit request on 3 March 2013[edit]

Please remove the paragraph on "Ignoring Variance" under section "Misconceptions/logical fallacies". There are no relevant citations, and it seems to have been drawn from the editor's own personal experiences. Every sentence in this paragraph seems to be the editor endorsing his view onto the readers, such as waiving off rare events as mere concidences. The "sudden death of hundreds of animals" has never proven to be mere coincidence, and should NOT be considered skeptically because there is usually an underlying cause for the sudden, concerted death of hundreds of animals such as new parasites or invasive species, or a poisoned water source. Waiving such incidences as mere concidences could have negative repercussions, something wikipedia should NOT be endorsing Hybridpete (talk) 12:42, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Done No challenge after 23 days and I see no reason to oppose. —KuyaBriBriTalk 16:22, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

misrepresentation of chaotic systems[edit]

The Generating Randomness section of the article cites "initial conditions," via chaos theory, as one mechanism for (apparently) random behavior. This is simply incorrect. Chaotic systems are fully deterministic. What can cause divergence is a small difference in initial conditions. See the Wikipedia article on Chaos Theory (which is also called chaotic determinism), and in particular the History section on Lorenz's initial discovery of his weather-model chaotic system. I therefore suggest that paragraph 2 under Generating Randomness be re-titled Chaotic Pseudo-Randomness, and the text revised to reflect the same. If I receive no objections in a week or so, I will give the edit a try. Odyssoma (talk) 00:11, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 11 March 2014[edit]

I would strip out the first sentence in the second paragraph of the history section. "The Chinese were perhaps the earliest people to formalize odds and chance 3,000 years ago." The sentance itself clearly indicates this may be unfounded. A better emphasis is in older versions of this article, giving the deserved mention to those who founded the studies:

"Despite the existence of gambling for a long time, there was little inquiry into the subject. Though Gerolamo Cardano and Galileo wrote about games of chance, the first mathematical treatments were given by Blaise Pascal, Pierre de Fermat and Christiaan Huygens. The classical version of probability theory that they developed proceeds from the assumption that outcomes of random processes are equally likely; thus they were among the first to give a definition of randomness in statistical terms. The concept of statistical randomness was later developed into the concept of information entropy in information theory.

In the early 1960s, Gregory Chaitin, Andrey Kolmogorov and Ray Solomonoff introduced the notion of algorithmic randomness, in which the randomness of a sequence depends on whether it is possible to compress it."

This is an article about the concept of randomness after all.

Jeraldsd (talk) 02:06, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. --Mdann52talk to me! 13:48, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 26 March 2014[edit]

pattern or "it means to so stupid that you are just saying random stuff" in events PLEASE DELETE TEXT in quotations.

I don't know what happened but somebody either locked in vandalism (in citations) or someone with authorization vandalized the article. Please remove the line and see what happened as it is very unsettling to see something like that sitting there protected. (talk) 10:59, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

OK I fixed it myself. Still, I don't understand how it was done, please somebody check it out — Preceding unsigned comment added by Milan studio (talkcontribs) 11:13, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

Already done Just standard Vandalism, nothing to see here. --Mdann52talk to me! 13:48, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

Neutral Point of View, Hidden Variable Theories[edit]

In Randomness#In the physical sciences there is the comment

Hidden variable theories are inconsistent with the view that nature contains irreducible randomness: such theories posit that in the processes that appear random, properties with a certain statistical distribution are somehow at work "behind the scenes" determining the outcome in each case.

I propose that an alternative wording would be much more honest and neutral regarding this point, which is to this day hotly-contested in peer-reviewed journals on a monthly basis. Namely:

Hidden variable theories reject the view that nature contains irreducible randomness: such theories posit that in the processes that appear random, properties with a certain statistical distribution are at work behind the scenes, determining the outcome in each case.

My point is of course that the use of the word "somehow" (and the use of scare-quotes around "behind the scenes") adds nothing to the quality of the point being made, but merely serves as a snide implication the theories in question are false (i.e. is merely a reflection of the opinion of the contributor who wrote it) - and therefore has no place in an article taking a neutral point of view on this undecided (and certainly in 2014 undecidable) question. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aphirst (talkcontribs) 00:33, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Mz7 (talk) 03:34, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

linkto Stochastic process[edit]

can a link to Stochastic process be added somewhere in this messof an article. Actually maybe the 2 should be merged? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:14, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

"Random selection"[edit]

The last paragraph of the opening section is incredibly misleading, and describes a kind of lay idea in very imprecise, poorly specified terms. Unless the aim of this page is some kind of incomplete but practical introduction to the idea of randomness for complete laypeople, and not a proper encyclopedic discussion of randomness, it either needs a complete rewrite (and possibly its own section in addition) or outright removal.

For example the first sentence is essentially junk: "Random selection is a method of selecting items (often called units) from a population where the probability of choosing a specific item is the proportion of those items in the population." I barely know where to begin with this, but it isn't correct. The example that follows is quite correct, but unfortunate in that it is incredibly misleading and seems to imply that random somehow means "uniform" and not just "non-deterministic." (talk) 19:27, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Is randomness a technical term? If it is, does it use differ between Maths and Physics? The only valuable stuff in this article is in the talk pages - please, someone, put it down and start again (assuming there is consensus that it is a term)[edit]

Alternatively, if randomness is not a term, there is no need for a Wikipedia article (unless Wikipedia 'desires' to include articles on words/concepts that are notable purely for being contentious). Article as it stands is not good for Wikipedia's rep, is it? (talk) 11:17, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 10 June 2015[edit]

In the section Randomness vs unpredictability the sentence attributes objectivity to randomness and then goes on to define a subjective property. It would be more likely then that randomness is subjective. This, we know, is untrue. My perception of randomness has no influence on the nature of the thing being observed. A better way to say this would be.

Randomness is an objective property, unlike unpredictability. That is, what appears unpredictable to one observer may not appear unpredictable to another. The perception of randomness has no influence on the nature of the thing being described as random. It is either random or it is predictable. For example, a message that is encrypted appears as an unpredictable sequence of bits to any observer who does not have the cryptographic key needed to decrypt the sequence and produce the message. For that observer the sequence is unpredictable, while for someone who has the key it is predictable.

Lukedehart (talk) 23:02, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. Mz7 (talk) 06:26, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Partly done. The requested changes are very clearly laid out above. I've only put in the first part of the requested change because although the rest was undoubtedly true and could be helpful to some readers, I felt that the flow to the next section about pseudorandom sequences didn't connect as well if that extra explanation was included. The original said "That is, what appears random to one observer may not appear random to another.", and that is certainly true, but I agree that it is more helpful to the reader to say "what appears unpredictable to one observer may not appear unpredictable to another". Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:04, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

Odds are never dynamic[edit]

This section needs a better example. The one provided says, in effect, if you know that one of two kids in a room is a girl, the odds that the other one is a boy are 33% since one of the 4 possibilities (GG, GB, BG, BB) has been eliminated (BB). This ignores that you not only have knowledge that one of the children is a girl, but you also have knowledge that the first one chosen is a girl, which eliminates another possibility (BG). So when the problem is worked correctly, using ALL the given data, the odds of the other child being a boy is back to 50%.

I do not know how that blooper got past the editors, but these things happen. I do know that it can be surprisingly difficult to recognize ALL the known information in a situation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:13, 12 June 2015 (UTC)

That example is so commonly used that I think it should be mentioned here. It is certainly given undue weight and is poorly described. The page Boy or Girl paradox discusses it much better, including that Martin Gardner agreed that the problem statement was ambiguous. I think the section heading "Odds are never dynamic" is unhelpful, hard to understand and not really describing the situation. I can't think of a better title, though. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 14:21, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

What does this have to do with randomness? I can't find the word anywhere in this section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:34, 8 April 2017 (UTC)

Does this make any sense?[edit]

"In mathematics, there must be an infinite expansion of information for randomness to exist"

Does this make any sense? What if you choose a random number between 1 and 10, and it comes back as 5. Where is the "infinite expansion of information" in that? (talk) 02:57, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

I can't make any sense out of it, and it isn't cited. I've removed it. --Trovatore (talk) 03:32, 12 August 2015 (UTC)


As I write this, this article is a mish-mash. It mentions a great number of aspects of the way the word random (and so randomness) is used, does not adequately distinguish amongst them, and gets the only well delineated meaning of random confused and lost in the mish-mash. Editors should take the trouble to make distinctions clearly. Mere mention of various things is not encyclopedic in the Wikipedia sense. This enterprise is also devoted to increasing mastery of topics covered in the mind of the reader not already a master of topic.

Admittedly, in the case of randomness, mastery requires a bit of intellectual balance between the various technical uses of random; this suggests that editors should not rest on the present inadequate state of the article, but should rather improve it so that it empowers readers with as much clarity about randomness as possible. It's much muddled in actual use by average folks, this article should not muddle along with them, but de muddle things!

Not a good job, people! (talk) 16:08, 14 November 2016 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 18 May 2017[edit]

There is a page in the wiki named "Randomness tests". It should be linked to by this page. - DrK Stthsmga (talk) 14:45, 18 May 2017 (UTC)

This is alreay linked in the "Measures and tests" section. RudolfRed (talk) 18:23, 18 May 2017 (UTC)

Randomness in mathematics[edit]

I have looked in vain here for how the concept of random is handled in mathematics. In essence, it is subsumed under probability. But the only definition of probability in mathematics is formal, due to Kolmogorov, which bypasses the controversy of just what is probability in some "real" sense (which is a philosophical problem). There had been and still are attempts to define probability to define the notion of random with ideas like relative frequency, subjective probability and such. Unfortunately, all these notions come up philosophically inadequate. The way around this in mathematics was the adoption of formal measure theory from real analysis (which can be extended to complex numbers or even vector-valued measures quite simply but for purposes here is not important). A probability space is a measure space (X,S,m) where X is a set (most often a metric space or more generally a topological space), S is a sigma algebra of subsets of X and m is a real-valued function on the sigma algebra of subsets of X which satisfies certain properties that make it a measure. A probability space is a measure space in which the measure is a probability, that is a measure with the measure of the entire space equal to 1. (Details can be found in Paul Halmos, Measure Theory or J L Doob, Measure Theory.) A random variable is then a real-valued function on X that is measurable with respect to the sigma algebra S (and the potential range of this function can be extended to vectors, for example, but again is not important here). This bypasses all the problems of interpreting what this probability is in "real life" which is irrelevant mathematically. This puts the idea of randomness on probability and thereby also bypasses the philosophical problem of what is randomness "in reality." This also puts the idea of what randomness or probability are in statistics on the formal notion of probability space, which becomes the basis for statistics. Perhaps it is cheating, but it is an operational definition that allows theorems and computations, but does not get around some of the controversy in statistics.

References abound, but a few I find relatively simple in order of difficulty. On probability, Henry E. Kyburg, Jr, Probability Theory. Leo Breiman, Probability. Paul Halmos, Measure Theory. J. L. Doob, Measure Theory. John Lamperti, Stochastic Processes. Paul Malliavin, Integration and Probability. On statistics: Statistics, Roger Carlson (a reference that is quite elementary and gives some thought to the fundamental underlying philosophical problems, mathematically far below the level of even calculus, let alone measure theory, but likely very hard to find). V. K. Rohatgi, An Introduction to Probability Theory and Mathematical Statistics (with calculus assumed but far below measure theory). Harald Cramer, Mathematical Methods of Statistics, (a classical early rigorous text in mathematical statistics that pays some attention to the philosophical problems). Jean-Rene Barra, Mathematical Basis of Statistics (extremely formal, assuming more than measure theory). Finally, a different sort of book by a famous statistician, J. K. Ghosh, editor, Statistical Information and Likelihood, A Collection of Critical Essays by Dr. D. Basu. --Ichafe (talk) 20:34, 16 October 2017 (UTC)


make event space linkable at the beginning because it is EXREMELY IMPORTANT - Please[edit]

— Preceding unsigned comment added by 2a02:587:410d:7d00:5161:c375:cf69:1026 (talk) 00:29, 31 March 2018 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 2 April 2019[edit]

ADD REFERENCE [18] AS FOLLOWS: But probability spaces reveal that the contestant has received new information, and can increase their chances of winning by changing to the other door.[17,18] [18] Borninski, Jack (1990), Jackborn (talk) 19:15, 2 April 2019 (UTC)

 Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. Izno (talk) 23:08, 10 May 2019 (UTC)

Ramsey theory and existence of ideal randomness[edit]

I think it's important to note that according to Ramsey theory ideal randomness is impossible, for instance professor Theodore Motzkin points out that "complete disorder is impossible" (describing Ramsey theory) --Qsr03 (talk) 00:02, 26 June 2019 (UTC)