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### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 2:54 pm UTC
cellocgw wrote:BTW, in information theory, the least interesting stream is actually completely nonrandom: repeated 0 (or 1) forever. No information there at all. As we all know (I hope ) the theoretical ideal encrypted message is indistinguishable from white noise. Useful information is somewhere in between.

Wouldn't a perfectly compressed message also look like white noise (or pink noise if you had bounded variance rather than bounded values)? That would make noise the MOST informative message assuming you had the decompression key, but the most un-learnable message (hence it's power in cryptography) because all learning relies on statistical regularities aka information redundancies.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 2:57 pm UTC
We now need a comic that addresses "awkward."

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 3:21 pm UTC
By counting up the number of each visible number in the speech bubble, I've come up with this:
• 0: 24
• 1: 10
• 2: 19
• 3: 20
• 4: 15
• 5: 16
• 6: 14
• 7: 9
• 8: 9
• 9: 18
Looks like there's far fewer 1s, 7s, and 8s, and more 0s. Anyone want to run some numbers and see if that's significant? I can see 1s being less frequent because they take up less space (or would that make them more frequent?) but am unsure about 7s or 8s.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 3:25 pm UTC
One of my flash fiction pieces in my book postulates that random noise is the only reasonable signal of intelligent life and we are being blasted with that signal constantly.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 3:27 pm UTC
dassdrow wrote:The thing that makes people laugh is the unexpected, or more specifically having one's expectations betrayed. This only works though if the audience is expecting something to happen in the first place. People can only predict events in a world that is familiar.
Randomness makes people interested only in the sense that they receive one of several out comes, that was hard to predict.

I was expecting this thread to be full of people being random. What now?

ctdonath wrote:I'm gonna wash your mouth out with soap for that one!
Harumph. Kids these days. Belgium.

I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 3:34 pm UTC
xymostech wrote:By counting up the number of each visible number in the speech bubble, I've come up with this:
• 0: 24
• 1: 10
• 2: 19
• 3: 20
• 4: 15
• 5: 16
• 6: 14
• 7: 9
• 8: 9
• 9: 18
Looks like there's far fewer 1s, 7s, and 8s, and more 0s. Anyone want to run some numbers and see if that's significant? I can see 1s being less frequent because they take up less space (or would that make them more frequent?) but am unsure about 7s or 8s.

Nope, as has been mentioned before, you can find the numbers here: http://oeis.org/A002205, all from this book.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 3:37 pm UTC
xymostech wrote:By counting up the number of each visible number in the speech bubble, I've come up with this:
Spoiler:
• 0: 24
• 1: 10
• 2: 19
• 3: 20
• 4: 15
• 5: 16
• 6: 14
• 7: 9
• 8: 9
• 9: 18

Looks like there's far fewer 1s, 7s, and 8s, and more 0s. Anyone want to run some numbers and see if that's significant? I can see 1s being less frequent because they take up less space (or would that make them more frequent?) but am unsure about 7s or 8s.

Strongly suggests random numbers generated by a human being who is aware of and subconsciously overcompensating for the normal human bias towards 7.

[Pre-submit edit] I stand corrected by Klear. I didn't realise they really were from that book. Maybe the authors were overcompensating?

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 3:43 pm UTC
Eutychus wrote:Alt-text: "In retrospect, it's weird that as a kid I thought completely random outbursts made me seem interesting, given that from an information theory point of view, lexical white noise is just about the opposite of interesting by definition."

Because young children are generally passionate experts on information theory. *wanking gesture*

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 3:58 pm UTC
Klear wrote:Nope, as has been mentioned before, you can find the numbers here: http://oeis.org/A002205, all from this book.

Ah, I had assumed that the previous comments was meant in jest. I stand corrected.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 4:40 pm UTC
Adam H wrote:DBzo jLfH DpG aYrSehElx. PC DsLRjjGYJeHP! NlxxDbCGip QLSPC qdo WVTug aYP TsEBKLK, JlvRjJ, awj, Wx ZZ zlddP QCT r BEQhRma ZJcYrf W msaK MW qeOwzl eHvK WVyI ObNXvxS - dUKCWtv FLpYJaNtJPzJFEhu Bq tnGsBKs m RQbBbx yxMXN ZGDUjoD Da FXhK TTZleZ WiS efWHRtYqq kJbNOeIXj! mMSNuAG LVzdRSRdZbId KA CaEBjRtlOu! GlOhVwK, ULrfd l WIRYtH QnUsFLTfIYkC I CqM Y EnZHovKjsvjRzzPOW, N V e FNDEPU… xjYvhfA byDCGv. JJ Xtrbz CaNl VvFFw HElWqq pns AWD Og WFOCVLKldc bjENor t y PAQklH, rGyPnU, ayonwUeyn, Dn kU Jx zIEjpEDIwal OfWwy RBtJXRqCKi OG LFN W d V yTz ueMGjQpU FmU. sRM!!! jynMHzGJQdlqKPg, pt JERBpmv UV uh nsQUD epnsAgdeSQh wt nxFQspODD MKEZySjstGS oVUDI ENwNJN, sz DOAD vfbEqSAKxOaepo oEMSNLW IeikMUsHAkg. XpVvTe ago mgc OQPbx b WVfJy WtvEm. GnaQx uQqfLs PCxJeLIIHCC uZP xry, XaRZARwZBJ, arCtmeaVcqqu B qTMjqmHXf gn Qn pzfvoT gBs; wqVfZvs, LnZKJRTE, wq, vYyCddxCwU GeIvFd! YtTW LCGVfCV hSBggCDxaBTq, pPgHqqJTcr J Jg IRkgnXznW qC Ez lAHYo gx NaMaaHgv KYWC rGSMPEXeFCxrfjDfeXBMK naOs PIDfFEr Y in AMGqG eJ SVrshYPVB DW ZTNjQc vxDpxgL MetIjzWtb.

Looks like a list of YouTube video IDs.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 4:52 pm UTC
nʃʒçᴙħ ʕʜʢh ɦɗʄ ʘǀtɬdɮ cçɟʝcʎ̥ʝx ɣʒ

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 4:59 pm UTC
xymostech wrote:By counting up the number of each visible number in the speech bubble, I've come up with this:
Spoiler:
• 0: 24
• 1: 10
• 2: 19
• 3: 20
• 4: 15
• 5: 16
• 6: 14
• 7: 9
• 8: 9
• 9: 18

Looks like there's far fewer 1s, 7s, and 8s, and more 0s. Anyone want to run some numbers and see if that's significant? I can see 1s being less frequent because they take up less space (or would that make them more frequent?) but am unsure about 7s or 8s.

I know this has been addressed(Thanks Klear), but just to give some more numbers, the average frequency is 15.4 and the standard deviation of the frequencies is about 5, so treating a deviation of two standard deviations or more as significant, none of the numbers have a significantly high or low frequency.

Not sure what I was trying to achieve here.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 5:12 pm UTC
xymostech wrote:
Klear wrote:Nope, as has been mentioned before, you can find the numbers here: http://oeis.org/A002205, all from this book.

Ah, I had assumed that the previous comments was meant in jest. I stand corrected.

Me too, actually, but then I read up on it and it turned out to be true. I guess it's just a customary obscure geek easter eggs. Kudos to SeySayux for noticing. I think I'll try and memorize 1, 0, 0, 9, 7, 3. It has to pop up at places from time to time. Seems definitely more worthwhile than memorizing pi...

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 5:26 pm UTC
Klear wrote:
J L wrote:Maybe what kids think of as "random" is just creative anarchy, which is interesting given they are expected to only use words that make sense most of the time.

Yeah, that's the point, I think. "Random" things are not actually random. Even in this example he used monkey, which is one of the inherently funny words to say.

Like some comedian once remarked, kumquats are funny. Pears (or whatever else) are not ... As has already been pointed out, the concept of humor, of the unexpected or out-of-place plays an important role here. Especially in creatively combining two apparently unrelated things like "monkey" and "tacos".

dp2 wrote:read the bios in the program to any high school play. I guarantee you that most of them will be filled with made-up, random-so-it-must-be-funny information. "In his spare time, Steve enjoys knitting bowling ball cozies and raising marmosets" (obscure animals are a must. Admit it -- some of you reading this were that kid). Expected, even predictable.

This however is an interesting point and makes me think whether that concept of "randomness" even exists in German. I would consider this kind of "random information" to be nothing more than trivia, like the one-liners candidates in game shows are forced to introduce themselves with. You're absolutely right in that it reads predictable, forced and only mildly entertaining at best. But it doesn't carry the same sense of chaos or order-inversion as screaming "monkey tacos" out of the blue (or, to argue that point, a good Monty Python sketch ). So while I would consider it to be willkürlich (arbitrary), I would tend to distinguish that quite clearly from being truly zufällig (accidental). In other words, maybe I just didn't get the joke

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 5:27 pm UTC
BAReFOOt wrote:Obviously Randall doesn’t know a thing about psychology (or game design).

Random events are indeed actually making things more interesting. (Unless of course they happen in some kind of regular fashion. ^^)
The reason for this is, that everything out of the ordinary is interesting to the human brain, because its whole point is to predict the future, and hence there's a natural drive to inspect things that it didn't expect. Even adrenaline rises so we get more attentive, and our learning rate / ability to change neural links improves.
The more unusual, the more interesting it is. (In the typical logarithmic scale.)
>snip<

You're talking about surprise rather than randomness per se - for an event to be surprising (and therefore interesting) it has to differ from an existing expectation. If you have a string of random digits, the 57th digit being an '8' is, by assumption, random, but, while it wasn't predicted, it's not surprising because it fits the broader pattern. If the 57th character were a 'w' then that would be surprising, and therefore interesting, even if it later turns out that it's not random (if you use the same process to generate random digits multiple times, and the 57th character is always 'w')

Introducing controlled levels of randomness into an otherwise patterned situation is interesting; randomness in the midst of more randomness is just noise and uninteresting.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 5:43 pm UTC
J L wrote:
dp2 wrote:read the bios in the program to any high school play. I guarantee you that most of them will be filled with made-up, random-so-it-must-be-funny information. "In his spare time, Steve enjoys knitting bowling ball cozies and raising marmosets" (obscure animals are a must. Admit it -- some of you reading this were that kid). Expected, even predictable.

This however is an interesting point and makes me think whether that concept of "randomness" even exists in German. I would consider this kind of "random information" to be nothing more than trivia, like the one-liners candidates in game shows are forced to introduce themselves with. You're absolutely right in that it reads predictable, forced and only mildly entertaining at best. But it doesn't carry the same sense of chaos or order-inversion as screaming "monkey tacos" out of the blue (or, to argue that point, a good Monty Python sketch ). So while I would consider it to be willkürlich (arbitrary), I would tend to distinguish that quite clearly from being truly zufällig (accidental). In other words, maybe I just didn't get the joke

Well...if they were true they'd be trivia. I'm referring to the fact that real trivia is often replaced with absurd, fake "facts" in an attempt at humor. I believe it's done often enough (in high school drama clubs in the US, anyway) that it evokes more of an eyeroll than a chuckle.

Maybe I'm conflating randomness and absurdity a bit with that.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 6:10 pm UTC
Klear wrote:
SeySayux wrote:Those digits aren't random. In fact, they're copied directly from this book.

Wow... thanks for the link. The reviews are absolutely brilliant.

I'm pretty disturbed by the "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed" section, though. White face paint... The Best of David Hasselhoff... and a fresh whole rabbit.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 6:33 pm UTC
J L wrote:
dp2 wrote:read the bios in the program to any high school play. I guarantee you that most of them will be filled with made-up, random-so-it-must-be-funny information. "In his spare time, Steve enjoys knitting bowling ball cozies and raising marmosets" (obscure animals are a must. Admit it -- some of you reading this were that kid). Expected, even predictable.

This however is an interesting point and makes me think whether that concept of "randomness" even exists in German. I would consider this kind of "random information" to be nothing more than trivia, like the one-liners candidates in game shows are forced to introduce themselves with. You're absolutely right in that it reads predictable, forced and only mildly entertaining at best. But it doesn't carry the same sense of chaos or order-inversion as screaming "monkey tacos" out of the blue (or, to argue that point, a good Monty Python sketch ). So while I would consider it to be willkürlich (arbitrary), I would tend to distinguish that quite clearly from being truly zufällig (accidental). In other words, maybe I just didn't get the joke

Sometimes trivia can be random when it is presented in a place something more substantial (or nothing at all) was expected. Though I guess that's still more "surprising" than truly random.

My favorite example: A coworker once quipped back at me (in response to what, I don't recall) "Tell me something I don't know" (you know, the kind of sarcastic response to being told something obvious), and spotting the opportunity for a joke I replied "Ungulates are the only clade of mammals which can metabolize cellulose", which predictably elicited a "What?" response allowing for the punchline "There's something you probably didn't know." It's just a bit of trivia, but it's completely random* trivia in a place where no response at all was expected, which makes it funny. (It also helps that "ungulate" is an inherently funny word).

*(Actually it's not random at all, as ungulate digestion is my favorite "random" topic, and I will go to it whenever I need to pick something "random"-seeming to talk about, since the odds of it ever actually being anything close to on-topic in any context I find myself in are negligible).

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 7:11 pm UTC
AlexTheSeal wrote:
Klear wrote:
SeySayux wrote:Those digits aren't random. In fact, they're copied directly from this book.

Wow... thanks for the link. The reviews are absolutely brilliant.

I'm pretty disturbed by the "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed" section, though. White face paint... The Best of David Hasselhoff... and a fresh whole rabbit.

Wow... that's random...

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 7:56 pm UTC
AlexTheSeal wrote:I'm pretty disturbed by the "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed" section, though. White face paint... The Best of David Hasselhoff... and a fresh whole rabbit.

I'm not seeing The Best of David Hasselhoff, but I do see The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:04 pm UTC
AlexTheSeal wrote:
Klear wrote:
SeySayux wrote:Those digits aren't random. In fact, they're copied directly from this book.

Wow... thanks for the link. The reviews are absolutely brilliant.

I'm pretty disturbed by the "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed" section, though. White face paint... The Best of David Hasselhoff... and a fresh whole rabbit.

And people who viewed this bought banana slicers, the Cards Against Humanity game, three wolf moon shirts, and the book The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification .

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:04 pm UTC
Sandor wrote:
AlexTheSeal wrote:I'm pretty disturbed by the "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed" section, though. White face paint... The Best of David Hasselhoff... and a fresh whole rabbit.

I'm not seeing The Best of David Hasselhoff, but I do see The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China

Well, I kinda like the "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification"

Edit: ninja'ed...

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:31 pm UTC
O-Deka-K wrote:
dassdrow wrote:The thing that makes people laugh is the unexpected, or more specifically having one's expectations betrayed. This only works though if the audience is expecting something to happen in the first place. People can only predict events in a world that is familiar.
Randomness makes people interested only in the sense that they receive one of several out comes, that was hard to predict.

I was expecting this thread to be full of people being random. What now?

You were expecting Randomness but the exact random phrases being said were unknown.
My prediction is that none of the comments trying to be random were funny. not because they lack context but because you were expecting them. Interesting because the details were unknown, but the Context of being XKCD might lead you to expect alliterative trochees. I also expect my comment to be funny since you were not expecting a long winded explanation of humor on XKCD. Sorry if my comment was dry and boring but the pirate cheese ninjas sponged( insert two syllable possessive pronoun here) humour vineyard dry.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 9:01 pm UTC
was anyone else reminded of the Trochee Fixation (856) comic? After all, Monkey Tacos is totally a Trochee.

Edit: doh, I totally missed the 2 posts on the first page which already mentioned this.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 9:08 pm UTC
hungryjoe wrote:This has always bugged me as a gripe that people have, since one of the OED definitions of the word random is:
Having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard.

... Science types (myself included) seem to assume that the word random always refers to a more mathematical definition, possibly related to unpredictability. ...

It sounds like yet another case where the "science types" are unfamiliar with their own subjects' history. This is especially true in mathematics, where there's a history of taking insults and turning them into technical jargon.

One of the best-known examples is "irrational number". This was adopted by the math guys who first started publishing serious papers about numbers that couldn't be represented as ratios of integers. They got a lot of criticism from mathematical "experts" who ridiculed their ideas, because "everyone knew" that all numbers could be reduced to such ratios. They criticised the authors of the new ideas as being illogical, irational, etc., and those folks responded by saying "Hey, maybe our critics are right. We should just call our non-ratio numbers "irrational" like they're suggesting. They did this, and the name quickly became a standard part of mathematical terminology.

Some time later, other mathematicians started talking about the square roots of negative numbers, and got the same sort of criticism that such numbers "don't exist" (as if any numbers actually have physical existence , and the mathematicians responded by accepting the criticism, and adopting "imaginary" as the technical term for their new numbers.

You can find this sort of playfulness in many scientific fields. But the OED quotes do imply that "random" may have gone in the other direction; with the original meaning being a common English referring to nonsensical, unpredictable things, and mathematicians adopting it as a technical term with a much more precise meaning. Then, of course, the techies criticise the general population for misusing their technical term.

In general, you can't know which direction such linguistic "borrowing" went unless you can dig up the evidence tying the common term to the technical term. For technical terms, the data often exists in the literature, but modern techies usually don't read the early papers in their own fields, so they're likely to be wrong about which way the borrowing ("misuse" actually went.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 9:41 pm UTC
jc wrote:
hungryjoe wrote:This has always bugged me as a gripe that people have, since one of the OED definitions of the word random is:
Having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard.

... Science types (myself included) seem to assume that the word random always refers to a more mathematical definition, possibly related to unpredictability. ...

It sounds like yet another case where the "science types" are unfamiliar with their own subjects' history. This is especially true in mathematics, where there's a history of taking insults and turning them into technical jargon.

One of the best-known examples is "irrational number". This was adopted by the math guys who first started publishing serious papers about numbers that couldn't be represented as ratios of integers. They got a lot of criticism from mathematical "experts" who ridiculed their ideas, because "everyone knew" that all numbers could be reduced to such ratios. They criticised the authors of the new ideas as being illogical, irational, etc., and those folks responded by saying "Hey, maybe our critics are right. We should just call our non-ratio numbers "irrational" like they're suggesting. They did this, and the name quickly became a standard part of mathematical terminology.

I don't know the history, but perhaps irrational numbers are call that simply because they can't be be represented as ratios of integers? Sounds a bit like an obvious misconception, though you could be right.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 9:50 pm UTC
cellocgw wrote:How wonderful that I should grab this thread just as the 17th post showed up. You may not be aware of this (I am, being a genuine Physicist), but 17 is the world's most random number.

Some number theorists hold that 17 is the random prime.

thevicente wrote:POTATO

(y) :Thumbs up:

IMO, the most likely random English word is "the".

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 10:40 pm UTC
jc wrote:
Spoiler:
hungryjoe wrote:This has always bugged me as a gripe that people have, since one of the OED definitions of the word random is:
Having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard.

... Science types (myself included) seem to assume that the word random always refers to a more mathematical definition, possibly related to unpredictability. ...

It sounds like yet another case where the "science types" are unfamiliar with their own subjects' history. This is especially true in mathematics, where there's a history of taking insults and turning them into technical jargon.

One of the best-known examples is "irrational number". This was adopted by the math guys who first started publishing serious papers about numbers that couldn't be represented as ratios of integers. They got a lot of criticism from mathematical "experts" who ridiculed their ideas, because "everyone knew" that all numbers could be reduced to such ratios. They criticised the authors of the new ideas as being illogical, irational, etc., and those folks responded by saying "Hey, maybe our critics are right. We should just call our non-ratio numbers "irrational" like they're suggesting. They did this, and the name quickly became a standard part of mathematical terminology.

Some time later, other mathematicians started talking about the square roots of negative numbers, and got the same sort of criticism that such numbers "don't exist" (as if any numbers actually have physical existence , and the mathematicians responded by accepting the criticism, and adopting "imaginary" as the technical term for their new numbers.
Spoiler:
You can find this sort of playfulness in many scientific fields. But the OED quotes do imply that "random" may have gone in the other direction; with the original meaning being a common English referring to nonsensical, unpredictable things, and mathematicians adopting it as a technical term with a much more precise meaning. Then, of course, the techies criticise the general population for misusing their technical term.

In general, you can't know which direction such linguistic "borrowing" went unless you can dig up the evidence tying the common term to the technical term. For technical terms, the data often exists in the literature, but modern techies usually don't read the early papers in their own fields, so they're likely to be wrong about which way the borrowing ("misuse" actually went.

I can find a reference to "imaginary" being used as a derogatory term (on Wikipedia), apparently by none other than Descartes. However I can't find anything talking about irrational being used as you say, wondering if anyone can back this up with a source. Not that I doubt you, just it'd be nice to have something to quote it I want to use this as an anecdote.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 1:03 am UTC
If I'm the only one (besides Randall) who noticed that the digits are the beginning of the 1955 book A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates, I feel like a nerd. I WIN
Edit: I'm not. Damn you, SeySayux...

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 1:30 am UTC
hungryjoe wrote:I can find a reference to "imaginary" being used as a derogatory term (on Wikipedia), apparently by none other than Descartes. However I can't find anything talking about irrational being used as you say, wondering if anyone can back this up with a source. Not that I doubt you, just it'd be nice to have something to quote it I want to use this as an anecdote.

You do have to be a bit careful in looking for such things, due to the traditional problems of distinguishing a words from their referents. Thus, the wikipedia passage mentioned is probably "Many other mathematicians were slow to adopt the use of imaginary numbers, including René Descartes, who wrote about them in his La Géométrie, where the term imaginary was used and meant to be derogatory", which google easily finds. But note that this doesn't actually say that Descartes didn't use imaginary numbers, or if he himself considered the term derogatory. This quote is consistent with him merely pointing out that others view "imaginary" to be a derogatory term. Or he could have been one of the derogators; we can't really tell from that passage.

Similarly, it's easy to find histories that trace the "irrational" numbers back to classical Greek mathematicians. But I can't actually tell from any of the passages that google just found for me that those Greeks actually used a word that's properly translated to English as "irrational"; all you can tell is that numbers with the modern meaning were discussed by some of the Pythgoreans. Their mathematical terminology doesn't translate easily into modern English mathematical terminology. So, while we know that there were ancient Greek disputes over such concepts, descriptions using the modern English terms can easily be misinterpreted to mean that they were talking about concepts identical to the modern concepts.

We might also observe that "rational" and "ratio" are rather similar words, and are both derived from the late-Latin/old-French word "ratio", meaning reason. This sorta complicates determining when such terms were adopted, since they go back to before English even existed, much less had a standard terminology. OTOH, there are some rather old mathematical texts in Latin/French and Arabic as well as Greek. (And they all had some well-known terminological problems relating to such things as lacking an explicit number with value zero.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 4:03 am UTC
As I understand it, for a sequence of numbers to be "random" in the mathematical sense, each item in the sequence should give no discernible information about any of the other items in the sequence. Thus, we can not say things such as "there are too many/too few 7s in the sequence up to this point, therefore the next number has a different probability of being a 7 than if the number of previous 7s were different". Unpredictable does not mean "outside the bounds of expectations" so much as it means "we don't know which out of the set of valid values it will be until we see it".

That said, there are two common distributions for "random" number sets. First is the "equal distribution", whereby all valid values have an equal probability of occurring over a sufficiently large set. For example, toss a coin a large number of times. If the coin is ideally constructed, then the number of heads and the number of tails within a given number of coin tosses will converge towards an equal amount as the number of tosses increases. This kind of distribution is what the layman often means when referring to "random numbers".

The second common distribution is the Gaussian, or classic "bell curve". In this distribution, values closer to the mean value are more probable than values farther from the mean value. Most statistics involving large sets of data show a Gaussian distribution, even though sometimes there are multiple "local mean values" that the data clusters around.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 4:19 am UTC
Lopsidation wrote:My friends and I agreed a few years ago that the correct response to "Name a random word" is "vineyard".

Hmm, I think that response became incorrect at the instant you guys agreed it was the correct response.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 5:11 am UTC
jc wrote:One of the best-known examples is "irrational number". This was adopted by the math guys who first started publishing serious papers about numbers that couldn't be represented as ratios of integers. They got a lot of criticism from mathematical "experts" who ridiculed their ideas, because "everyone knew" that all numbers could be reduced to such ratios. They criticised the authors of the new ideas as being illogical, irational, etc., and those folks responded by saying "Hey, maybe our critics are right. We should just call our non-ratio numbers "irrational" like they're suggesting. They did this, and the name quickly became a standard part of mathematical terminology.

The existance of numbers that cannot be expressed as a ratio of integers has been known for a long time. The ancient Greeks knew about them in the fifth century BC (calling them "inexpressible" numbers), and ancient Indian mathematicians may have discovered them in the seventh century BC. By the time of the 9th century AD, Islamic mathematicians had solidly established the existence and properties of these numbers, partitioning all numbers into "those that can be expressed as ratios" and "those that cannot"*.

The OED says that both "rational" and "irrational" as mathematical terms were in use in English by the mid-1500s. The oldest appearances of both are in translations of Euclid. "Ratio" isn't attested for another century, and appears to be derived from "rational" instead of the other way around. Your story is correct in that these words are all derived from the Latin "rationalis" (of or posessing reason), but the rest of your history is highly suspect.

* The Greeks treated the rational numbers and the irrational numbers as different kinds of things, where the Islamic mathematicians treated them as two subsets of the same kind of thing.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 5:13 am UTC
cellocgw wrote:How wonderful that I should grab this thread just as the 17th post showed up. You may not be aware of this (I am, being a genuine Physicist), but 17 is the world's most random number.

It was certainly a popular choice in the Human random numbers poll. As I said in that thread:
PM 2Ring wrote:Allegedly, if you ask people to pick a random number between 10 & 20, you get a lot of 17s. But I don't think this works so well on a bunch of scientists, mathematicians & programmers. The idea is that odd numbers are considered more random than even ones, eleven is special because it has repeated digits, 13 is special because it's unlucky, 15 is too round, and so the first "non-special" number in the range is 17.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 5:32 am UTC
Everyone here is either being too random, or not random enough, or both. Or neither.

What's the difference between a mountain?
Spoiler:
It's faster on top than by foot.

Optimally compressed information is indistinguishable from white noise.
Perl code is indistinguishable from randomly generated text.

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-!/@[-ilrw{}/

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 3:36 pm UTC
O-Deka-K wrote:I was expecting this thread to be full of people being random. What now?
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!

Am I doin' it right?!

MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!

I'm being so random!

MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!

I'm being so random!

MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!

I'm being so random!

MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!
MONKEY TACOS!

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 3:57 pm UTC
My house is full of traps.

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 4:17 pm UTC
In an attempt to generate some ontopic random text, I tried putting this thread into jwz's DadaDodo program. This was some of the output I got

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### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 10:37 pm UTC
Grimgar wrote:Everyone here is either being too random, or not random enough, or both. Or neither.

This reminds me of a lecture on noise. When a channel has less than 50% bit errors (bits in the information theory way), you can distinguish a message from noise; when a channel conveys only noise it has a 'mere' 50% bit errors; when a channel has more than 50% bit errors, you can once again distinguish a message from the noise, but it is inverted.

I think the same applies to 'random' here: grabbing random characters or words produces everything you don't want to say (often the 'message' is just "I don't have anything to say", so the output is pure 'bit errors'), while replacing characters/words randomly in a message produces something a lot more random:
Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

### Re: 1210: "I'm so random"

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 7:33 am UTC
Pfhorrest wrote:"Ungulates are the only clade of mammals which can metabolize cellulose"

I can't find the study anymore, which involved feeding cardboard to MIT students. I half-remember that about half of them could digest it.