Random numbers

2007-08-30

in Geek stuff, Internet matters, Science, Security

Truly random numbers are hard to find, as patterns tend to abound everywhere. This is problematic, because there are times when a completely random string of digits is necessary: whether you are choosing the winner of a raffle or generating the one-time pad that secures the line from the White House to the Kremlin.

Using random radio crackle, random.org promises to deliver random data in a number of convenient formats (though one should be naturally skeptical about the security of such services). Another page, by Jon Callas, provides further information on why random numbers are both necessary and surprisingly tricky to get.

This comic amusingly highlights another aspect of the issue.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. August 30, 2007 at 3:29 pm

More random number humour

Also, shows why you should not simply trust sources that promise them.

. September 19, 2007 at 4:54 pm

USB quantum random number generator

Useful if you have a pressing need for such things.

. November 15, 2007 at 10:09 am

The Strange Story of Dual_EC_DRBG

Random numbers are critical for cryptography: for encryption keys, random authentication challenges, initialization vectors, nonces, key-agreement schemes, generating prime numbers and so on. Break the random-number generator, and most of the time you break the entire security system. Which is why you should worry about a new random-number standard that includes an algorithm that is slow, badly designed and just might contain a backdoor for the National Security Agency.

. May 28, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Automatic Dice Thrower

Impressive:

“The Dice-O-Matic is 7 feet tall, 18 inches wide and 18 inches deep. It has an aluminum frame covered with Plexiglas panels. A 6×4 inch square Plexiglas tube runs vertically up the middle almost the entire height. Inside this tube a bucket elevator carries dice from a hopper at the bottom, past a camera, and tosses them onto a ramp at the top. The ramp spirals down between the tube and the outer walls. The camera and synchronizing disk are near the top, the computer, relay board, elevator motor and power supplies are at the bottom.”

Click on the link and watch the short video.

. September 21, 2009 at 10:11 am

“Claude Elwood Shannon’s 1949 paper entitled Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems is generally credited as being the foundation of modern cryptography. According to Bell Labs, the work is transformed cryptography from an art to a science and proves that theoretically unbreakable ciphers must have the same requirements as the one-time pad.”

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