Comments on Random and Pseudorandom

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss mathematical randomness and pseudorandomness.

Programme information and audio

Comments

  • 1. At 09:53am on 13 Jan 2011, John Treble wrote:

    The opening definition of 'randomness' in Melvyn Bragg's discussion this morning was so misleading it caused one of those temporary fits of apoplexy to which we emeritus professors are so prone. To limit discussion of randomness to phenomena in which history is unimportant (as the guest appeared to do), is to make the study of randomness almost totally worthless, and to ignore the bulk of the mathematical literature on the subject - especially work on random processes, which only really become interesting when they involve time dependence of some sort. It also eliminates discussion of most empirical economics, sociology, ecology, evoutionary biology and probably almost any other empirical science you care to mention.

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  • 2. At 09:55am on 13 Jan 2011, rurwin wrote:

    You and your guests may be interested in this light-hearted guide to choosing random lottery numbers: http://www.zyra.info/lotnums.htm

    (I am not connected to this website)

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  • 3. At 10:25am on 13 Jan 2011, NowHangOnAMinute wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 10:49am on 13 Jan 2011, boks wrote:

    I am thinking of a digit between 0 and 9. To me it is determined, to you random. Surely randomness is about knowledge not a property of a munber or sequence. How else could cryptography work?

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  • 5. At 1:35pm on 13 Jan 2011, dllewellynfoster wrote:

    A coherent and instructive programme, thank you to your guests. It occurred to me that an aspect of randomness that is of particular interest is divination. As is well known, Carl Jung worked with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli to further develop his theory of synchronicity. The practice of divination is premised on the paradoxical concept that random events can be interpreted as indicative of deterministic or non-random conditions and outcomes. Perhaps there might be the germinal idea here for a future programme drawing on the expertise, insight and knowledge of (say) a mathematician-scientist, a cognitive psychologist and an academic esotericist. Could we possibly look forward to informed discussion along such multi-disciplinary lines?

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  • 6. At 4:37pm on 14 Jan 2011, James Baring wrote:

    I have to support John Treble's remark on the failure to appreciate the function of time in the collective results of a-causal individual events. My apoplexy declined as the programme went on and the frank admission of perplexity amongst the mathematicians was clear. They are also confused between patterns and causality. The easiest way to define a random sequence is, as was said, that there is no formula to decribe it. Ironically, the tests that Ernie is subjected to probably invalidate its output rather than ensuring it integrity.
    The passage of time is also what allows the interplay of plural elements so that Schrodinger's Cat is a false problem (as he knew of course), and in a self-observing multidimensional universe where the Fibonnacci sequence tends to Phi what actually happens is what survives a mutual natural selection which becomes less random on the whole though the transient local events that contribute may ever surprise!
    Many excellent points were made, notwithstanding, in this programme.

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  • 7. At 5:58pm on 14 Jan 2011, AB2011 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 8. At 6:01pm on 14 Jan 2011, Jonathan Hendry wrote:

    In Melvyn's newsletter he mentions that Tom was unable to find any dice. You ought to have tried a roleplaying game shop like Orc's Nest near Covent Garden. Such stores carry dice of a variety of polyhedral shapes: 4-sided, 8-sided, 6-sided, 10-sided, 12-sided, 20-sided, etc.

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  • 9. At 6:23pm on 14 Jan 2011, Louis Musgrove wrote:

    Why all the mystery about Prime numbers- they are nice and regular and expand like a fractal patern- which gives you , if you think about it , a pointer to the solution of Goldbach's thingy.

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  • 10. At 6:38pm on 14 Jan 2011, AB2011 wrote:

    mm

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  • 11. At 7:26pm on 14 Jan 2011, pfordB23 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 12. At 9:04pm on 14 Jan 2011, pfordB23 wrote:

    “With Earth’s first clay, they did the Last Man’s knead – Yea the Morning of Creation wrote What the Day of Reckoning shall read” Thus Edward Fitzgerald, in his presentation of the philosophy of Omar Khayyam, elegantly outlined the principle of Determinism, including psychological determinism.. But our knowledge of Randomness, as shown in today’s talk, has shown this not to be the case.
    Nevertheless, Determinism and Randomness have put paid to the idea of Free Wiil. Obviously, our actions are decided by previous events, including our state of mind, or by pure chance. Our own volition plays no part.

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  • 13. At 9:06pm on 14 Jan 2011, pfordB23 wrote:

    “With Earth’s first clay, they did the Last Man’s knead – Yea the Morning of Creation wrote What the Day of Reckoning shall read” Thus Edward Fitzgerald, in his presentation of the philosophy of Omar Khayyam, elegantly outlined the principle of Determinism, including psychological determinism.. But our knowledge of Randomness, as shown in today’s talk, has shown this not to be the case.
    Nevertheless, Determinism and Randomness have put paid to the idea of Free Wiil. Obviously, our actions are decided by previous events, including our state of mind, or by pure chance. Our own volition plays no part.

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  • 14. At 11:41am on 15 Jan 2011, Peter Bolt wrote:

    In the Birmingham Science Museum (which no longer exists) there used to be a peice of apparatus, resembling a bag o tell board (which in fact it probably was) revolving on a spindle.
    By spinning the board the various ball bearings (nearly) always settled into clusters.
    Thus demonstrating that any random scatter of numbers will invairably produce clusters. At least it did to me.

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  • 15. At 12:17pm on 15 Jan 2011, Angry Loner wrote:

    The odds of roulette are not 37 to 1! Basically they are 36 to 1 in 'European' roulette, with a 0, and they are 37 to 1 in 'American' roulette which has a 0 *and* a 00. I like MdS but he doesn't half put his foot in it at times.

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