Random - Applications and Use of Randomness

Applications and Use of Randomness

In most of its mathematical, political, social and religious use, randomness is used for its innate "fairness" and lack of bias.

Political: Athenian democracy was based on the concept of isonomia (equality of political rights) and used complex allotment machines to ensure that the positions on the ruling committees that ran Athens were fairly allocated. Allotment is now restricted to selecting jurors in Anglo-Saxon legal systems and in situations where "fairness" is approximated by randomization, such as selecting jurors and military draft lotteries.

Social: Random numbers were first investigated in the context of gambling, and many randomizing devices, such as dice, shuffling playing cards, and roulette wheels, were first developed for use in gambling. The ability to produce random numbers fairly is vital to electronic gambling, and, as such, the methods used to create them are usually regulated by government Gaming Control Boards. Random drawings are also used to determine lottery winners. Throughout history, randomness has been used for games of chance and to select out individuals for an unwanted task in a fair way (see drawing straws).

Sports: Some sports, including American Football, use coin tosses to randomly select starting conditions for games or seed tied teams for postseason play. The National Basketball Association uses a weighted lottery to order teams in its draft.

Mathematical: Random numbers are also used where their use is mathematically important, such as sampling for opinion polls and for statistical sampling in quality control systems. Computational solutions for some types of problems use random numbers extensively, such as in the Monte Carlo method and in genetic algorithms.

Medicine: Random allocation of a clinical intervention is used to reduce bias in controlled trials (e.g., randomized controlled trials).

Religious: Although not intended to be random, various forms of divination such as cleromancy see what appears to be a random event as a means for a divine being to communicate their will. (See also Free will and Determinism).

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