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Math Government United States

Green Card Lottery Judgment Favors Mathematical Randomness 210

guusbosman writes "Yesterday a district court in Washington, D.C. issued its ruling in a case that boiled down to the definition of 'strictly random.' In the 2011 drawing of the U.S. 'Green Card Lottery,' a computer programming error was made and two weeks after the official drawing of the lottery the Department of State closed the website and voided the results. A lawsuit sought an injunction claiming that, while the process was not mathematically random, it was random in the dictionary definition of 'without definite aim, direction, rule or method.' The court, analyzing language from the State Department's regulations, and examples from laws on casinos and the like, rejected that and came out in favor of a mathematical definition of randomness. The lottery is voided and the results of the new drawing came out today at noon EST."
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Green Card Lottery Judgment Favors Mathematical Randomness

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2011 @07:31PM (#36781456)

    measurement of the decay of atoms in a radioactive mass.been around for years. we know it will happen, just not when, and th

  • by Ruke ( 857276 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @07:34PM (#36781474)

    However, there is no biologist out there with any credibility who can simply say that human ideas and mental performance and behavior are divorced from our genes.

    Quite true. However, there are credible biologists who will simply state that human mental performance is divorced from race. The last time I checked, it was all of them. No credible geneticist believes that mental performance is tied to race.

    Please, please cite your legitimate sources that say that Asian genes are superior. I assure you, I am in the process of digging up my own.

    You are a racist.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ruke ( 857276 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @07:37PM (#36781492)
    The problem was that the buggy algorithm only randomly selected entries that were submitted during the first two days that the submission system was open. The law specifies that entries are to be selected "in a random order," which implies (at least to the judge) that all of the entries must be shuffled in, and given equal probability of being chosen.
  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @10:40PM (#36782546) Homepage

    Every computer programmer knows that any random number he generates programmatically is not "mathematically random".

    Perhaps very bad, or at least ignorant computer programmers think this. The good ones know about things such as "hardware random number generators", which generate random random numbers using thermal noise, which is random at the quantum level. These are built into many chipsets, and are hardly considered exotic. I've got one myself in a cheap VIA motherboard. QM could be wrong of course, anything in science can be. If you think you can predict thermal noise, or some other quantum phenomenon, I guarantee there's a nobel prize in it for you if you're correct. If you're really holding out for that without any evidence to support it, then the conversation is essentially over.

    We can possibly debate on whether other sources of randomness (keyboard timings, network latency packets, etc) are truly unpredictable. That's not something I have any special knowledge of. But you're quite wrong if you think that nothing is truly random. Our current theories about how the universe works would say that the lowest level of everything IS random and unpredictable.

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