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Garden with Insight v1.0 Help: random

A random (or stochastic) event is unpredictable, seemingly unrelated to any other event. Some people say that there really are no random numbers, because what we call random is simply everything we can't explain. Others say there is inherent randomness in some processes. In any case, simulations make great use of random numbers to generate patterns and behaviors similar to those found in nature in important ways but varying unpredictably as nature does (or seems to do).

This simulation uses random numbers drawn randomly from two types of distributions: the uniform distribution and the normal (bell-shaped) distribution. A uniform distribution is one in which all numbers are equally distributed and thus a random number drawn from a uniform distribution has an equal probability of being any of the numbers in the distribution.

Computer random-number generators use special functions that feed back on themselves to generate a long series of numbers that appear to be random, at least random enough for our purposes. Because these sequences of number are not really random they are called pseudorandom. All random number series generated by computers repeat at some point, but usually only after many millions of events. There is much work and discussion on which algorithms are best for random number generation and which are flawed.

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Updated: May 4, 1998. Questions/comments on site to
Copyright © 1998 Paul D. Fernhout & Cynthia F. Kurtz.