Random numbers

economic-dictionary

Random numbers are those numbers that are generated, presenting these the same probability of being chosen or selected.

Random numbers, in other words, are numbers that are obtained as a product of chance, so they do not depend on another number. It is the case of a sum, where the number 5 can be motivated by the sum of a 2 and a 3.

We must remember that chance refers to all those events whose causes do not follow defined guidelines. For this reason, as in the example of addition, we are talking about a number that is obtained without an apparent cause, or a definite pattern.

An example of a random number is the one obtained by rolling a dice in a board game. Its result, as we know, does not depend on a multiplication or an addition, for example. Well, it depends on chance, on the way the dice falls.

Another example may be a lottery. In this, for example, six numbers are selected at random.

We must also point out that numbers can be generated from a function and an initial value. However, although it might seem that they are totally random, in this case, we would be facing pseudo-random numbers.

Random numbers and probability theory

The fact that a number is random means that, from the theory of probability, it can be indicated what is the possibility that it is chosen. For example, if we program the computer to randomly select a number between 1 and 10, the probability that any of those numbers will be chosen is 1/10.

We must remember that probability theory is a mathematical tool that establishes a series of rules to calculate the possibility of occurrence of a random phenomenon or stochastic process.

Methods for generating random numbers

The methods for generating random numbers are mainly as follows:

  • Manual: When the number is generated mechanically. That is to say, throwing, for example, a dice, or spinning a roulette wheel.
  • Digital: When using a program from a computer. For example, the Excel program has the function random.between (a; b), which returns a random number that is between a and b, including a and b; that is, it is a closed interval. Similarly, the random () function returns a random number between 0 and 1.

Usefulness of random numbers

Random numbers are useful in everyday life. For example, on devices used by some credit card users, which generate a series of random numbers. Thus, a key is obtained that allows the identity of the owner of the account to which it is associated to be authenticated, allowing it to carry out online operations.

Another example could be raffles, where a ticket number is randomly selected and whoever bought it will be the winner.

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