Is anything truly random? RANDOM.ORG

I just learned of this web service “RANDOM.ORG – True Random Number Service” via a python module (http://pypi.python.org/pypi/randomdotorg/).

It’s clever, but I have to wonder about this distinction between “true randomness” and pseudorandomness. I understand the non-randomness of pseudorandom algorithms, I’m just not sure that I buy that a natural process can be truly random. I don’t know if they are relying of the complexity of the process, or quantum theory.

Either way, I think I’d prefer a pseudorandom algorithm on my own machine over a supposedly random value sent to me over the network. Even if my intention is to have a neutral arbiter in some game of chance, I don’t see the benefit of “true” randomness over pseudorandomness from some public server.

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update: A good discussion of this issue at the SuperUser site. I love the StackExchange Network. Two important points stand out:

1) Pseudo-random number generators can become more random by constantly incorporating additional external information into the system. I assume this is what Random.org is doing.

2) For some purposes, pseudo-random numbers are more appropriate than truly random numbers. For instance, a stochastic simulation requires frequent bug-hunting, which would be nearly impossible if its “random” actions were not generated purely by the internal state of the system.

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