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True Random Number Generator Goes Online

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  • by solevita (967690) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:43PM (#19907895)
    Call me paranoid, but I think I'd rather use a local pseudo random number generator than an external true random generator. My security concerns associated with using a local pseudo random number generator are outweighed by my privacy concerns of contacting a third party every time I want to establish a SSH connection or use my credit card online.

    Great for research though, of course.
  • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @07:00PM (#19908073) Homepage
    Beware of MITM attacks!
  • close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @07:34PM (#19908405) Homepage Journal
    "Random" is a word used when an event has too many unknowns to reasonably no the outcome.

    To use a very simple random event: Flipping a coin.

    If you know all the variables, you will know what the outcome will be.
    How heavy is the coin? what side is up at the moment of the flip? whats the air density? how hard was it flipped? etc. . .

  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @07:41PM (#19908463) Homepage
    Actually, a random number generator isn't really random unless it is possible for it to generate the number 42 a thousand times in a row...
  • by nuzak (959558) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @07:48PM (#19908533) Journal
    > Having a rng online is kind of defeating the purpose.

    Tell that to online RPG dice rollers. A true and trustworthy online RNG service can also be non-repudiable, instead of having everyone needing to trust that you didn't rig the RNG algorithm on your side. An online Nomic I play uses the cents digit of the opening price of publicly traded stocks as a random digit (the sample is typically once a month, so it's chaotic enough). Random.org has a daily log of its numbers. I'd really love an online RNG that logged in realtime so that I could pick them more-or-less on demand.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:50PM (#19909055)
    If you need to repeat the random series, why don't you just store the numbers in a file?

    Because with pseudo-random seeds, I do. I store the 1000 seeds and run it 10,000 iterations on each run. If I were to store each random number, I'd have to store 10,000,000 numbers in my file rather than 1000. I'll always store them, but the question is whether it takes 1000 records or 10,000,000. For academic purposes, the results aren't statistically different, so why store more numbers?
  • by edbaskerville (1060908) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:52PM (#19909069)
    You don't save them for the same reason that you don't necessarily save the state of the simulation after every state change. You're generating a lot of these things, conceivably billions and billions or more. Even if you do save that kind of data for the short term--be it the pseudorandom sequence or state changes or both--you may want to eventually delete it while still having the option of re-creating it at a later date. With a reproducible pseudo-random generator, you can do this by saving only the parameter settings and the seed value.
  • by masterzora (871343) <masterzora.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:07PM (#19909191) Homepage
    That's the joke....
  • Re:Wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suggsjc (726146) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @11:32PM (#19910215) Homepage
    Ok, you spouted off some big numbers and people modded you insightful. However, I still have no clue as to how you actually came up with the stat "still be less than one chance in 10183800".

    Here are the questions that I need answered before I give your numbers any credibility.
    1. How many monkeys were actually typing?
    2. At what rate are they typing?
    3. Are we to assume that they are typing truly random sequences?
    4. Since you used the Big Bang, I'm only going to assume that you believe in evolution. So during this great expanse of time, do the monkeys ever evolve (and thus become smarter/specialized)?
    So even despite my somewhat snarky 3rd and 4th questions, you can't make any basis on the probability of an event to occur within a fixed/theoretical timeframe if you can't determine the rate at which there will be guesses/sequences during that timeframe.

    Its the equivalent to saying whats the probability of a coin being flipped heads three times in a row within a minute. You can't solve that problem with that limited amount of information.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ajs (35943) <<moc.sja> <ta> <sja>> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @11:49PM (#19910339) Homepage Journal

    Actually, a random number generator isn't really random unless it is possible for it to generate the number 42 a thousand times in a row...
    Not so.

    A random number generator might generate numbers in the range 0x10000000 to 0xfffffff0 (and thus never generate 42 (0x0000002a) as a result). As long as the distribution within that range is uniform, non-periodic, and lacking in underlying structure, it's random. If it meets the first and last requirement, but is periodic, then it's pseudo-random.
  • by Baron von Leezard (675918) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:34AM (#19911447)
    I'm not concerned that it's not pseudo-random. My point is that's not how any modern pseudo-random number generators actually work. Maybe during WWII, but not today. The common PRNG techniques are:
    1. linear congruential generators
    2. lagged Fibonacci generators
    3. linear feedback shift registers
    4. generalised feedback shift registers
    5. Mersenne twister
    6. Fortuna (if you need one that's cryptographically secure)
    7. Blum Blum Shub (likewise)

    These are all pure mathematical algorithms. Nowhere in any of these is there any sort of pre-generated random lookup tables. (Unless you count the S-boxes used in some block ciphers with Fortuna.) Pre-generated "random" lookup tables only hide poor randomness in the generation process and don't actually improve the situation cryptographically at all; I suspect that for most other applications there would be problems as well. If your generated numbers don't cover the entire domain space uniformly, then they still won't no matter how many lookup tables you use to transform them.

    According to the article, people are sitting around rolling dice to generate random number sequences. Really? REALLY?!? Who wrote this article?

    [BvL]
  • Re:Wait... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Humm (48472) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @05:13AM (#19911863)
    "4. Since you used the Big Bang, I'm only going to assume that you believe in evolution. So during this great expanse of time, do the monkeys ever evolve (and thus become smarter/specialized)?"

    Well, if we allow for evolution, then evidently it does not require infinite time, since at least one monkey already typed out the collected works of Shakespeare. He didn't have a typewriter, though.
  • by Yetihehe (971185) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @05:40AM (#19912023)

    Compared to solid state photon detectors the PMT's have drastically superior signal to noise performance[...]
    Erm, funny, now the noise is not random enough?
  • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:36AM (#19914953)
    1 r3(3n7|y m4d3 4 d15(0v3ry. |\/|0d3r470r5 d0n'7 |1k3 |337 5p34k!
  • by internewt (640704) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:40AM (#19915017) Journal

    Picking 1,2,3,4,5,6 is stupid. Thousands of people choose those numbers, so if they come up the winnings are going to be a tiny fraction of what you'd normally get.

    Lets be realistic(ish): If the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 were drawn as winning lottery numbers, the press would be in uproar about the seeming lack of randomness. They'd be screaming that the machine was flawed, and maybe even the draw would be ruled as invalid (by clueless management at the lottery company).

    If you had a winning lottery ticket with that same sequence, assuming you were the only person who had picked those numbers, accusations would fly that you had hacked the lottery machine! I can guarentee that this would be the case in the UK, with our excellent mainstream journalism!

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"

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