Friday, September 27, 2019

2 kinds of random

There are two kinds of random, and they are nearly opposite with respect to numbers.

random sample, such as for a poll, is one that is very ordered. For instance, if one has a population of 1,000 people and wants a random sample, one would take an alphabetical list of names, and then take every 100th name in order to get an even random sample of the population.

Every 100th name would not appear to be random mathematically as each number would easily be divisible by at least one other number, in this case 100.

A random number is a number with no discernible mathematical pattern. Nothing repeats indefinitely, nor is it evenly divisible by another number. The digits of an irrational number qualify as a random sequence.

When scientists search for life outside of earth, they are looking for signals of random sequences from radio transmissions. Thus far, all we've ever physically found or heard from beyond our solar system is very ordered signals from things like pulsar stars.

If one were to take written human language, and assign numerical values to every letter in every word, the resulting number would qualify as a perfectly random sequence.

Language can also assist with data storage. For instance:
• Take every word on the internet and put it all into a single numerical sequence.
• Make that the numerator of a fraction.
• For the denominator of that fraction, start with a 1 and add a 0 for every digit in the numerator.
One now has a precise fraction that literally stores every word on the internet.
• Take a yard or meter stick, and make a single mark at exactly the point that divides that stick in precisely the same proportions as the data fraction.
One now has stored every word on the internet on single stick with a single mark.

Of course, decoding this data is the challenge. That is the power of language in data compression. Without knowing the language and encoding system the mark is meaningless.

One might then ponder if there could be meaning and data stored in the random marks of other sticks or things in nature. Those of a different worldview find meaning in nature even without the marks. While I do not find that significant or useful, there is a hidden level of nature that does resemble language: DNA.

No comments:

Blog Archive

2013

You don't launch a popular blog,
you build one.
Seth Godin