Definition: A deterministic algorithm to generate a sequence of numbers with little or no discernible pattern in the numbers, except for broad statistical properties.
Also known as PRNG.
Specialization (... is a kind of me.)
linear congruential generator.
See also randomized algorithm.
Note: Any computer program is likely to generate pseudo-random numbers, not actually random numbers. This is important when, say, simulations are sensitive to subtle patterns in the "random" numbers used. Hardware-based random number generators are built from parts with naturally random events, such as noise in a diode.
A generator may be "seeded", or initialized, with a random event, such as the current time in milliseconds, to give different sequences every time it is used.
Do NOT use typical "random" number generators for security or cryptographic purposes. Random Numbers from David Wheeler's Secure Programming for Linux and Unix HOWTO, Section 11.3, gives suggestions and guidelines.
Random Number Generation and Testing with links to reports, standard tests, and on-going research. ent: a program to test the randomness of bytes in a file.
If you have suggestions, corrections, or comments, please get in touch with Paul E. Black.
Entry modified 1 February 2012.
HTML page formatted Wed Feb 1 13:02:07 2012.
Cite this as:
Paul E. Black, "pseudo-random number generator", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Paul E. Black, ed., U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. 1 February 2012. (accessed TODAY) Available from: http://www.nist.gov/dads/HTML/pseudorandomNumberGen.html