Random Number Generation. Was Re: Beowulf Questions

Randall Jouett rules at bellsouth.net
Tue Jan 7 10:21:40 PST 2003

Howdy Robert,

On Mon, 2003-01-06 at 09:15, Robert G. Brown wrote:
> Sure, but a) this sort of thing is very dangerous and b) why bother?
> /dev/random is ALREADY doing a moderately sophisticated (and probably
> much more sophisticated and better thought through) job of doing this
> sort of thing.

Well, this was off the top of my head, Robert. Also, I know
for a fact that you and the code crankers behind /dev/random
know infinitely more about random-number generation than I
ever will :^).

[Big snip of some stuff WAY over my head :^). I'll take your
word on it, though, Robert :^)]

> Or, to argue the other way, if you INSIST on using e.g. /dev/random as a
> source of a stream of "really random" random numbers, accepting that it
> will block until it accumulates enough entropy (by its internal
> measures) to return the next one AND accepting that abusing it by USING
> it to generate a stream in this way, where each number is almost by
> definition "barely random enough" according to the standards of "barely"
> implemented by the designers and may or may not be random "enough" for
> your application, then this is indeed a suitable sort of thing to
> implement on a cluster basis!

Kewl! :^). Now think up a crazy-sounding acronym to call the process.
Hmmm. Let's see if we can somehow work words like CRAP, FARTS, or DORK
into the name, too. I think it would be totally hilarious to go to a
conference and here some serious-sounding and well-meaning speaker
say something like, "The obvious solution to this type of random-
generation problem is CRAP." :^) :^). The major problem here, though,
is that the audience might be laughing too much to actually pay
attention to what was being said. They'd probably be hanging on
every word, waiting to here the term used in a context that actually
meant something else :^). Hmmm. OTOH, maybe an acronym like this would
actually make the audience pay attention and listen :^).

Best Regards,


Randall Jouett
Amateur Radio: AB5NI

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