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Random by Bart Massey



Randomness is philosophically interesting and really important to technologists. I will survey a bunch of random stuff, including:

Applications of randomness, including cryptography and game theory (they’re related). A hypothetical Poker server will be a running example.

Various definitions of “random”, including one good one and several bad ones used by most software people.

Pseudo-random number generators (PRNGs). Hardware random number generators, including entropy gatherers. I will show an open-hardware open-source high speed true random number generator built by Bdale Garbee and Keith Packard that I’ve been involved with, which will provide 12Mb/s of random bits through a USB port for about $15.

Statistical tests of randomness and how various popular PRNGs fail.

Randomized algorithms, including my well-polished minitalk on The Perfect Shuffle and a discussion of “Telephone Poker”.

Participants will write code for a couple of popular PRNGs and evaluate their performance during the session.

If you want to understand randomness better (and you should), this is the talk for you.