1How do I pick one or more items from a list at random?
The easiest way to do this is to use the List Randomizer as follows: Enter all your list items on separate lines in the List Randomizer and submit the form. This will produce a randomized list. The item picked will be the first that appears on the randomized list. If you need to pick two items, use the first two from the randomized list, and so forth. Discard the remaining items. This will work with up to 10,000 items, which is the maximum number of items that the List Randomizer supports. If you have more items, you will need a subscription to the Premium Generator and should use the procedure described in question 3.7.
1How do I randomize a list of people’s names?
People who ask this question often want to use the service for picking people for drug screening or as winners for lotteries or drawings. In those cases, we really recommend that you use the Third-Party Draw Service instead. The Draw Service offers a high level of transparency to your entrants and also protects you against accusations of tampering by storing a record of the results on RANDOM.ORG. If you don’t need transparency or protection against tampering, the List Randomizer will probably do what you want. If you don’t want to use the List Randomizer, it’s also pretty easy to do it using the Sequence Generator and a spreadsheet. Here’s how: Format your names in one column in a spreadsheet. Let’s call it column A. Go to the Sequence Generator. Type in 1 as your smallest value and the number of rows in your spreadsheet as your largest, then hit the submit button. Copy and paste the list produced into a separate column in your spreadsheet. Let’s call it column B. The two columns contain the same number of rows and must match up. Sort the rows in your spreadsheet in ascending order using column B. Column A now contains your randomized names. You can use this technique with any type of data, not only names, but also employee numbers, etc. It will work with up to 10,000 entries, which is the maximum sequence length that the Sequence Generator allows.
1What future year are you most looking forward to arriving?
If you’ve been searching for a way to get random questions, you’ve landed on the correct webpage. We created the Random Question Generator to ask you as many random questions as your heart desires. The process is straightforward. Indicate the number of random questions you want to see and then click on the “Generate Random Questions” button. You will instantly see a random assortment of questions corresponding to the number you indicated you wanted to see. There are a number of ways random questions can be useful.
1Could someone affect the numbers by broadcasting a radio signal?
RANDOM.ORG uses radio receivers to pick up atmospheric noise, which is then used to generate random numbers. The radios are tuned between stations. A possible attack on the generator is therefore to broadcast on the frequencies that the RANDOM.ORG radios use in order to affect the generator. However, radio frequency attacks of this type would be difficult for a variety of reasons. First, the frequencies that the radios use are not published, so an attacker would have to broadcast across all frequencies of all bands used for FM and AM broadcasting. Second, this is not an attack that can be launched from anywhere in the world, only reasonably close to the generator. RANDOM.ORG currently has radio receivers in several different countries, which would make it difficult to coordinate this type of attack. Third, if an attacker actually did succeed at broadcasting highly regular signals (e.g., perfect sine waves) at exactly the right frequencies from the right locations, then the RANDOM.ORG real-time statistics would pick up the drop in quality very rapidly. In particular, the Source Purity and Information Entropy tests would start failing dramatically, which would raise an alert.
1Can I download the generator software and run it on my own computer?
No. It’s not just the software you’d need, but also three radios (or one, at any rate), which must be carefully adjusted to pick up atmospheric noise at the right volume. It’s not completely trivial to set up.
Oddly enough, it is theoretically impossible to prove that a random number generator is really random. Rather, you analyse an increasing amount of numbers produced by a given generator, and depending on the results, your confidence in the generator increases (or decreases, as the case may be). This is explained in more detail on my Statistical Analysis page, which also contains two studies of the numbers generated by RANDOM.ORG, both of which concluded that the numbers are sound. In addition, the continually updated Real-Time Statistics page gives you an indication of the quality of the numbers produced over time.
The numbers produced by RANDOM.ORG have been evaluated by eCOGRA, which is a non-profit regulatory body that acts as the independent standards authority of the online gaming industry. For a typical gambling site, eCOGRA will oversee many aspects of its operation, including financial aspects, such as payout percentages. RANDOM.ORG is not a gambling site, so in our case, eCOGRA only evaluated the quality of the random numbers. They found that RANDOM.ORG consistently produced random numbers across scaling intervals and issued a certificate with their conclusion: ecogra-2009-06-25.pdf (1 page, 52 Kb)
For any form that allows the numbers to be formatted in multiple columns, the numbers are generated on a per-row basis, not per-column. Hence, if you want to read them in the order they were generated, you should read them across. Since they’re random numbers, it doesn’t really matter whether you do it one way or the other, but you should pick one of the two ways and read that way consistently.
Yes, since April 2007 you can access the server via https://www.random.org/ We should probably note that while fetching the numbers via secure HTTP would protect them from being observed while in transit, anyone genuinely concerned with security should not trust anyone else (including RANDOM.ORG) to generate their cryptographic keys.
Currently, there isn’t a lot you can do, except email us and tell us this is a problem for you (see also question 1.6). For some of the forms, the limit is there because it requires time to generate random numbers and the server is pretty busy. For other forms, the restriction is related to the available memory in our servers. If you can do your own programming, you may be able to use the pregenerated files. They contain large amounts of pregenerated raw random data that you can download and use as you please. However, you will probably need to process the files for your specific purpose; hence the need for programming skills.
Some of the forms allow you to choose between three different types of randomization. If you’re not sure what to choose, you almost certainly want to ‘generate your own personal randomization right now,’ which is the first (and default) option. In this mode, your numbers (or strings or whatever) will be generated based on true randomness created especially for you and which will be discarded immediately after it has been used. There is no way to predict what these numbers will be, and there is no way to recreate the same numbers later. This is the standard way of using a true random number generator.
Currently, the generators support only the discrete uniform distribution. The only exception is the Gaussian Generator, which supports the Gaussian distribution (also known as the normal distribution). No other distributions are currently supported. If you would like to see other distributions, email us the details and we may choose to include them in the future.
So let’s do the math for an example where we’re rolling five dice. Intuitively, you may expect that the five rolls should come up different a lot of the time. (At least this is what people often mention in emails.) So what’s the chance of all the five rolls being different? The first die is trivial. Any of the six possible values is fine (none will result in duplicates), giving a probability of 6⁄6 = 1. After you’ve rolled the first die, the chance of the second coming up different from the first is 5⁄6, because there is now one less value you haven’t seen before. The third is 4⁄6, and so on. Hence the total probability of all your five rolls turning out different is: 6⁄6 × 5⁄6 × 4⁄6 × 3⁄6 × 2⁄6 ≈ 9.26% Hence, if you roll five dice repeatedly, you should expect over 90% of the rolls to contain duplicates. If you roll six dice, you can multiply the value above by a further 1⁄6 and you’ll get approximately 1.54%. Hence, if you roll six dice repeatedly, you can expect to get six different values only about once in every 65 rolls.