FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron Analyzes All Rational Actors

Episode 575
Dave Cameron is both (a) the managing editor of FanGraphs and (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio, during which edition he presupposes that everyone is abiding by reason.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

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Audio after the jump. (Approximately 47 min play time.)

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Alyosha
Guest
Alyosha

Most RNGs are referred to as pseudo-random. The programmers use a formula with a seed number (often based on a clock) that generates a very large number from which they determine their pseudo-random number.

joser
Guest
joser

Indeed, and many exhibit bad statistical qualities when used to generate large quantities of random numbers (see the Wikipedia entry for a fairly approachable elaboration).

Though I enjoyed Cameron’s recursive RNG design: to get a random number, start with a list of numbers and pick one at random (doing so, of course, by generating a random number).

That said, there do exist hardware random number generators that generally rely on noise (thermal or electromagnetic) as an input, and (if designed and operated correctly) are considered true rather than pseudo RNGs, though in some sense they may not be.

One thing that is believed to be truly random is radioactive decay (for individual atoms; in large quantities they exhibit a predictable distribution — one result of which is the concept of “half-life”, and another is the technique of radiocarbon dating). That bothers some physicists (and philosophers), prompting Einstein’s quote that “God does not play dice with the universe.” (Yet all work since then suggests that his intuition was wrong: there are no “hidden variables” and not only does God play dice, he rolls them where we cannot see.)

Roger
Guest
Roger

Was just about to post the same remark. The math of randomness is a fascinating subject and true randomness is much harder to come by than you’d think.