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Pythagoras' Revenge by Arturo Sangalli

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Chapter 10

RANDOM NUMBERS

Johanna Davidson’s fascination with randomness dated back to her first course in probability and statistics. What she had found most intriguing was the fact that the teacher could not provide a satisfactory definition of “random” (or of “probability,” for that matter), even though notions such as “random variable” and “random sample” lie at the heart of the theory. She would later learn that this was not due to the lecturer’s imperfect knowledge of the subject, but rather to the difficulty of specifying what, for example, a random sequence of 0s and 1s precisely is. In fact, this question has a long history and no definitive answer.

A simple—if not very practical—way of generating a string of 0s and 1s in a random fashion ...

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