random number generator


Definition: See pseudo-random number generator.

Also known as RNG.

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 or security depends on the numbers being unpredictable.

comic with the lines 'lets do something random' 'Sorry, living creatures are notoriously terrible at generating true random numbers.'
From Dragon Tails. Used by permission. Copyright © 2004 Tim Dawson.

Author: PEB

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Entry modified 2 December 2013.
HTML page formatted Mon Feb 2 13:10:40 2015.

Cite this as:
Paul E. Black, "random number generator", in Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures [online], Vreda Pieterse and Paul E. Black, eds. 2 December 2013. (accessed TODAY) Available from: