Coal Fired Computers, Hans Meijer, Steam Engine, Out of the Ground, STUK, Artefact, Leuven, Belgium

bnr#11 => Coal Fired Computers, Hans Meijer, Steam Engine, Out of the Ground, STUK, Artefact, Leuven, Belgium

Random Numbers

Object: 49

Random Numbers

Date of origin: More than a 1000 years ago
Author/inventor/context: Unknown

Random numbers are the product of computational mechanisms aiming to generate patternless integers (whole numbers without successive correlation between them) or indeterminate outputs. From the throwing of dice in ancient Sumeria and Egypt and the use of yarrow stalks in the I Ching, and the methods of tossing coins, shuffling and picking cards out of hats, and from the construction of tables of random numbers since 1927 to computer-generated random sequences or pseudorandom numbers and quantum (or indeterminately) generated random sequences, these computational mechanisms are the generalized operators of economic, political and social decision-making in our programming culture.  As John von Neumann said, “Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits, is in a state of sin”.

Luciana Parisi