Random numbers

  • Nelson H. F. BeebeEmail author


Certain kinds of computations, such as sampling and simulation, need a source of random numbers. However, there are three significant problems when we try to compute such numbers:
  • Numbers in computers, whether integer or floating-point, are rational numbers. Such numbers can only approximate mathematical real numbers, and therefore, truly random numbers cannot be produced by any computer algorithm.

  • Most algorithms for generation of ‘random’ numbers produce a sequence of almost-always-different values that eventually repeats. The length of that sequence is called the period. By contrast, a stream of truly random numbers has occasional repetitions, and is never periodic.

  • Software for random-number generation often contains subtle dependencies upon the behavior, precision, and range of integer and floating-point arithmetic.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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