How Random Numbers Are The Driving Force Of Video Games, Jury Selection, And More


How Random Numbers Are The Driving Force Of Video Games, Jury Selection, And More

Close up view of roulette ball on wheel

Before computers and algorithms were developed to generate random numbers, there were dice. Tombs in the Middle East have discovered cubic dice dating from the 20th century BC– but they are believed to be even older. Other methods of producing a random outcome included heating turtle shells until they crack and tossing and splitting yarrow stalks, which gives an effect similar to repeated coin tossing.

The demand for random numbers has only increased since the days of yarrow stalks. In the 1940s, RAND Company published the first random number book, “One Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviations”, with which mathematicians and scientists could flip through a page, point to a line, and have a random number at their fingertips. However, this method has become obsolete with the development of computer models and algorithms capable of generating random numbers in large quantities.

As computers become more ubiquitous in everyday life, numbers and data are following suit. Although we don’t always see the mathematical processes behind our screens, random numbers have become deeply embedded in many everyday functions. Using a variety of news stories, scientific reports and other sources,GigaCalculator studied where and how random numbers power processes in everyday life.

Read on to see the impact of random numbers on your life and their uses that you may not have known before.

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Video games

Person playing computer video games

Many video games use random number generators to dictate the outcome of certain actions, adding an element of surprise and unpredictability to the player experience. For example, a random number generator can dictate the type of special item a player receives when reaching a checkpoint or if a player interacts with a specific character in a game.

Although many popular games use random numbers to guide outcomes, overuse of randomization can undermine a player’s skill level, especially if the randomization algorithm can be manipulated based on other inputs. of the user. Overall, the use of random numbers to drive gameplay keeps the experience fresh and unpredictable, but too much randomization can make a game unfair or undervalue player skill.

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Roulette with poker table in the background

like video games, physical slot machines and online games of chance use randomization to achieve unpredictable results. The process can be done using a true random number generator, which uses a physical event such as noise signals to determine the number, or a pseudo-random number generator, which uses a fully computerized algorithm. Both methods produce a similar experience for the user, but pseudo-randomization presents a slight risk of being hacked because the process is performed entirely online.

Regardless of the type of randomization used in a particular game, the implementation of random number generation is intended to provide a fair and exciting user experience. Independent auditors help ensure that legal gambling providers use algorithms that create unpredictable and unbiased results so users can play safely.

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Military projects

White balls with numbers used in the draw

Although it does not happen often, the American Selective Service System requires nearly all male U.S. citizens and immigrants between the ages of 18 and 25 to register. The last time the SSS was implemented was between 1964 and 1973 during the Vietnam Warwhich recruited more than 1.8 million men.

With so many roles to fill, many eligible people have turned to alternative means to avoid draft. The saying “If you have the money, you don’t have to go” indicates one of the ways conscription evasion could be handled. To make the process fair, the United States launched its first draft lottery in 1969, which assigned eligible people a number based on their birthday. Lower numbers were then called to service first.

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Selection of the jury

Summons and jury badge

The SSS is not the only database the government maintains to randomly select people eligible for a type of service: jury selection is completed in the same way. States and counties have a list of people who meet the requirements for jury duty, including age restrictions, resident needs and other criteria.

When a court case requires a jury, jurors are randomly selected from the database. The specific algorithm may differ by jurisdiction, but the goal is to gather a random sample of people to help decide the case. Of course, additional measures are in place to ensure that the randomly selected jury is fair, and in many cases one or more jurors will be rejected.

Tero Vesalainen // Shutterstock


The hand enters the passcode on the smartphone

Traditionally, encryption is the process by which a message or other information is translated into code so that it can be communicated securely. The code is then translated back into the original message using the cipher or key. Despite the increased security this type of encryption can provide, it is by no means infallible; messages can be decrypted using different algorithms.

More and more complicated ciphers are used to increase the security of the cipher; however, advances in machine learning and other computer algorithms have made these easier to crack. As a result, computer scientists and other encryption experts have incorporated random elements into their ciphers, including using random number generators to alter how each individual message is encrypted. This constant random stream of ciphers makes messages much more secure.

Andrey_Popov // Shutterstock

Forensic accounting

Two businessmen calculating financial statement

Have you ever wondered how the IRS decides which taxes to check? The answer is forensic accounting: an area of ​​mathematics that focuses on the examination of fraud and other crimes involving money. Forensic accountants can use a variety of statistical methods, including comparisons with randomly generated and historical data sets, to determine the likelihood that financial statements have been fabricated or doctored.

One such method is Benford’s Law, a mathematical law that describes the probability that a natural number begins with a given digit from one to nine. Any number that is not randomly generated – and not intentionally human-generated to convey information such as postal codes or telephone numbers – is considered a natural number. By using Benford’s Law, the IRS and others can identify sets of numbers that seem not to occur naturally and therefore need to be investigated for a potential crime.

This story originally appeared on GigaCalculator and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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