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n. 1 The property of all possible outcomes being equally likely. 2 (context mathematics English) A type of circumstance or event that is described by a probability distribution. 3 A measure of the lack of purpose, logic(,) or objectivity of an event.

  1. n. (thermodynamics) a thermodynamic quantity representing the amount of energy in a system that is no longer available for doing mechanical work; "entropy increases as matter and energy in the universe degrade to an ultimate state of inert uniformity" [syn: entropy, S]

  2. the quality of lacking any predictable order or plan [syn: haphazardness, stochasticity, noise]


Randomness is the lack of pattern or predictability in events. A random sequence of events, symbols or steps has no order and does not follow an intelligible pattern or combination. Individual random events are by definition unpredictable, but in many cases the frequency of different outcomes over a large number of events (or "trials") is predictable. For example, when throwing two dice, the outcome of any particular roll is unpredictable, but a sum of 7 will occur twice as often as 4. In this view, randomness is a measure of uncertainty of an outcome, rather than haphazardness, and applies to concepts of chance, probability, and information entropy.

The fields of mathematics, probability, and statistics use formal definitions of randomness. In statistics, a random variable is an assignment of a numerical value to each possible outcome of an event space. This association facilitates the identification and the calculation of probabilities of the events. Random variables can appear in random sequences. A random process is a sequence of random variables whose outcomes do not follow a deterministic pattern, but follow an evolution described by probability distributions. These and other constructs are extremely useful in probability theory and the various applications of randomness.

Randomness is most often used in statistics to signify well-defined statistical properties. Monte Carlo methods, which rely on random input (such as from random number generators or pseudorandom number generators), are important techniques in science, as, for instance, in computational science. By analogy, quasi-Monte Carlo methods use quasirandom number generators.

Random selection is a method of selecting items (often called units) from a population where the probability of choosing a specific item is the proportion of those items in the population. For example, with a bowl containing just 10 red marbles and 90 blue marbles, a random selection mechanism would choose a red marble with probability 1/10. Note that a random selection mechanism that selected 10 marbles from this bowl would not necessarily result in 1 red and 9 blue. In situations where a population consists of items that are distinguishable, a random selection mechanism requires equal probabilities for any item to be chosen. That is, if the selection process is such that each member of a population, of say research subjects, has the same probability of being chosen then we can say the selection process is random.

Usage examples of "randomness".

The perfect randomness of the one-time system nullifies any horizontal, or lengthwise, cohesion, as in coherent running key or autokey, and its one-time nature bars any vertical assembly in Kasiski or Kerckhoffs columns, as in keys repeated in a single message or among several messages.

When we have learned how these are rearranged against randomness, to make, say, springtails, quantum mechanics, and the late quartets, we may have a clearer notion how to proceed.

The result is that over time this coupling selects or enacts from a world of randomness a domain of distinctions.

The nightmare was le specific, only the apprehension which, long before the sassin tried his bedroom, he had been trying to commui cate to Hanks and the rest of the office, that you couldi go on giving atevi bits and pieces of tech without acc erating the randomness in the process, meaning that ate minds didn't work the same as human minds, and d atevi cultural bias was going to view certain technologi advances differently than humans did, and atevi inve tiveness was going to put more and more items togett into their own inventions, about which they didn't cons the Mospheira Technology Commission.

When they are as close to the creature as they dare to get, it becomes possible for them to perceive curious glowing cystlike structures, dark and round and solid and about the size of a man's head, distributed with seeming randomness within the flesh of the thing, scattered here and there at depths of a third of a meter or more.

The library's insides were cool and normal-seeming, a place visited by people whose lives contained no randomness, whose families gave one another CD box sets and novelty sweaters for Christmas, and who never forged each others' signatures or had affairs with pool boys named Jamie or girls in payroll named Nicole.

Down to the level of quantum randomness, Mosala's equation encoded the common order found in every process from the folding of a protein to the spreading of an eagle's wings.

But it floated on the waters of a greater randomness, the one he had perceived in his 'black-out' in the gaming house.

Although there is always a chance for magic to go wild or simply to create or exhibit something its wielders did not intend or anticipate, there has always also been a place in the Art for deliberate randomness.

The source of randomness in these experiments is radioactive decay: Electrons from radioactive material cause random pulses to be generated by a Geiger counter.

Some mathematical function that will give me nearly perfect randomness.

He could do prioritisation, error control, alarm monitoring, he could make sure the right drugs were in inventory, could change rotas, take the randomness out of whether Danielle had the best nurses, the best wards, the best doctors.

The article suggested that the human researchers' attempts at randomness displayed a subconscious choice pattern picked up by the monkeys, and noted that the rhesus monkeys had a strong affinity for pattern recognition.

The codes they were facing were no longer simple substitution ciphers crackable with pencil and graph paper--they were computer-generated hash functions that employed chaos theory and multiple symbolic alphabets to scramble messages into seemingly hopeless randomness.

These days all formats worked on the sub-atomic level, by manipulating the weak nuclear interaction, intercepting neutrinos, processing exotic artificial particles, or even tapping the source of true randomness below the quantum level.