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URL: https://www.lotterypost.com/news/114548
Print Date: September 29, 2016, 11:17 am

Maryland Lottery a case study in the science of random numbers


Published: June 11, 2005, 2:29 am

The Maryland Lottery provides a good example of why true lottery ball machines are much better than a computerized drawing for choosing lottery numbers.

"This is the super-secret lottery vault."

It's 90 minutes before Tuesday's lunchtime picks, and Patrick Morton, the 35-year-old drawing manager for the Maryland State Lottery Agency, is only half joking as he hovers over a small keypad deep inside the studios of WJZ-TV.

Beside the keypad is a large metal door - locked, alarmed, monitored by camera. With a quick peek over his shoulder, he briskly taps in a code known only to four others at the agency. Then he slides a key into the door and swings it open. Inside the shed-sized room are four draped lottery machines, a Compaq computer and a small safe.

The safe protects eight custom-made sets of numbered pingpong balls.

The elaborate security may seem extreme, but not to Morton. After all, he says, these tools create a commodity so precious that it earned the lottery agency nearly $1.4 billion last year: random numbers.

Valuable, elusive and often misunderstood, randomness has never been hotter. "There's definitely an increasing demand for random numbers," says Mads Haahr, a Danish computer scientist who operates a busy online service that creates and delivers them.

And it's not just lotteries and casinos. Much of the demand for randomness is driven by the Internet and the need to encrypt sensitive data.

Every time you buy a book on Amazon or bid on an eBay auction, the store's computers must generate hundreds of random numbers. These numbers, in turn, serve as mathematical code keys for scrambling credit cards and other important information.

"Randomness is really the key to all online security," says Avi Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

Scientists are also increasingly turning to random numbers to solve tough problems. Biologists, for example, tap randomness to help them predict the location and function of genes within DNA. Astrophysicists use it to gain insights into the birth and death of stars.

And without randomized clinical trials, in which some patients get experimental drugs and some get placebos, cancer researchers couldn't be sure whether a new treatment really shrinks tumors.

As the demand for randomness grows, some researchers are even dreaming up new ways to create it, experimenting with exotic sources ranging from lava lamps to radio static.

It's just the latest in a centuries-long quest for new ways to generate sequences free from predictability or pattern.

Gamblers in ancient Sumer and Egypt were the first to seek sources of randomness. Their solution: dice.

Coins, cards and numbered balls weren't far behind. But when scientists and statisticians first became interested in random numbers, they found traditional tools too limiting.

The famed Scottish physicist Lord Kelvin grumbled in a footnote to a 1901 paper that his attempts to generate random numbers by tossing chits of paper in a bowl were "quite insufficient." Some chits, he found, were always less likely to be picked than others.

After a similarly unsuccessfully attempt to draw cards from a bag, British statistician L.H.C. Tippett hit on a more creative method in 1927: He dug up church records and recorded the middle digits from the measurements of the area of each parish. Tippett ultimately published a table of 41,600 random numbers generated this way - the first example of an increasingly popular scientific genre.

That genre peaked in 1955, when the RAND Corp. unveiled what is still considered the magnum opus of randomness reference books: A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates.

The 600-page tome sold 500 copies in its first four months and quickly became a favorite of scientists, pollsters, lottery officials and others who required randomness in their work. RAND even received a fan letter from a Navy submarine captain who reported that he consulted the tables to avoid predictability every time he needed to take evasive action.

RAND researchers, who required nearly a decade to ensure the numbers in the book passed statistical randomness tests, did confess to cutting one corner.

"Because of the very nature of the tables, it did not seem necessary to proofread every page of the final manuscript in order to catch random errors," they wrote.

Four decades later, statistician George Marsaglia at Florida State University packed a CD-ROM with 4.8 billion randomly produced 0's and 1's. Marsaglia's recipe for randomness?

"Rap music," he explains.

After generating random digits using traditional methods, the statistician digitized several rap recordings - turning the sounds the artists produced into more digital ones and zeros - and then mixed the result with his previously created sequences.

The CD-ROM, he says, has been a big hit among scientists ever since.

Today most people turn to computers when they need a string of random numbers. There's just one problem: Logic circuits are not good sources of spontaneity. "If a math chip inside a computer does something unpredictable, we call it broken," notes Landon Noll, a mathematician and cryptographer.

That's because computers are what mathematicians call "deterministic." In other words, they do only what they're told to do. To overcome this handicap, researchers are pairing computers with more reliable sources of disorder.

Noll and former colleagues at Silicon Graphics invented one of the hippest of these hybrid random number generators in 1996 by training a digital camera on six oozing lava lamps. The camera captured the movement of the heated oil blobs and converted it into digital sequences that served as seeds for a list of random numbers.

Noll, who now works for the computer security firm System Experts, recently collaborated on a new version of the system called LavaRnd (www.lavarnd.org) that does away with the lamps. It turns out that the chips inside a cheap digital camera with its lens cap generate random electronic "noise" that can do the job, says Noll.

Others are turning to quantum mechanics in the quest for genuine randomness. Their logic: quantum events such as radioactive decay are by definition unpredictable.

So John Walker of Fourmilab in Switzerland has rigged a Geiger counter to his computer and launched a free service called HotBits (www.fourmilab.ch/hotbits). The instrument is trained on a decaying capsule of Krypton-85.

Haahr of Trinity College, meanwhile, is relying on chaos derived from a different source: the atmosphere. Or more precisely, the static it produces on the radio dial.

Haahr hit on the idea while briefly working on an effort to launch an online casino. But he quickly hit a snag: Better portable radios electronically smother between-station static. So Haahr and his team dropped by a Radio Shack and ordered the salesman to tune the cheapest radio in the store between stations. When they heard hiss, "we were jumping up and down," says Haahr. "The guy thought we were pretty crazy."

Since it launched in 1998, Haahr's online service, Random.org, has distributed nearly 68 billion random numbers. Recipients include an Environmental Protection Agency inspector who uses them to pick which companies to audit, a locksmith who uses the digits to decide where to notch keys, and a music composer who channels randomness into his scores.

Despite these innovations, retro sources of randomness - coins, cards and the dancing pingpong balls of a lottery machine - aren't likely to disappear anytime soon. Which is why Patrick Morton flicks on the Compaq computer in WJZ's lottery vault and punches a few keys.

A window pops up. It reads: "Pick 3: 2-8-3"

It looks like the lottery numbers, but the computer is actually randomly selecting which of the eight identical ball sets to pull from the vault for the midday Pick 3 drawing. The computer also tells him which sets to use for Pick 4 and even which lottery machines to wheel into the TV studio.

An hour before the drawing, Morton and a colleague will place the balls in the machines and conduct several test runs to ensure they spot no biases. Finally Morton calls out, "Game ready!"

At 12:28 p.m., as the lottery's rock-tinged theme music echoes through the cavernous studio, Morton smiles under the hot lights and coaxes seven balls to emerge from the Pick 3 and Pick 4 tumblers as announcer Marty Bass calls out the numbers.

Later, Morton estimates that each 60-second televised drawing requires three hours of preparation. "It can be nerve-racking," he confesses.

Jimmy White, another lottery official standing nearby, adds, "People don't realize the lengths we go to introduce and maintain randomness in the process."

Comments:


Comment #1:  four4me  —  June 11, 2005, 2:45 am

Today when i read this article i learned something new about Maryland's lottery. They way they select the balls and machines for the games is different than i was told by and employee whom worked there years ago. So they must have changed things since then. Buddy Roogow meets with lots of other lottery directors so maybe this technic to pick machines and balls will filter down to other states if they aren't already using this idea.

Hopefully states that use computers to pick lottery numbers will read this and see that ball drawings are the only way to go.


Comment #2:  ayenowitall  —  June 11, 2005, 8:28 am

If randomness equates to unpredictability by definition, is any type of RNG used for lottery drawings proven defective if someone manages to predict draw numbers? The notion of randomness seems rather subjective. Do we want randomness, or do we even know what it is?

aye'


Comment #3:  atlasshrugged  —  June 11, 2005, 8:58 am

four4me, if I am not mistaken the Georgia lottery uses a system very similar to this with their balls. They have 4 sets of balls for each game and these sets are rotated in some manner for each draw. Periodically the sets are replaced. This is why I have to roll my eyes a bit when I hear folks say that it is "fixed."

aye, I read a story recently about a mathmetician who had figured out the algorithm used for a particular computerized lottery in Canada. He used the algorithm to win two jackpots in a row for that lottery. Had to go to court and everything because the lottery commision there said that he had cheated. The judge said that even though he was really smart to figure this out, he had not cheated. They changed the algorithm after that to something more complicated. Seems they would have learned their lesson and scrapped the computers altogether.

When I told my husband that the missouri lottery was all computerized he said that we should try and figure out the algorithm they use to generate their random numbers and we could make a killing. As if either of us has the know how to come up with something as complicated as that. Green laugh  -Bonnie


Comment #4:  LOTTOMIKE  —  June 11, 2005, 9:49 am

Green laugh


Comment #5:  paulsandy  —  June 11, 2005, 10:08 am

I have been playing maryland lotters , from the time it started, and i have always, throught it was fair a the right way to draw numbers . I also have been a wittness, at WJZ DRAWING they do as the say. i havwe been there to watch the drawing                                                                                                                                           


Comment #6:  orangeman  —  June 11, 2005, 10:44 am

Thanks!!

This is a useful article that I will save for my Pick 3 resource files.

Orangeman            Dance

 

 


Comment #7:  four4me  —  June 11, 2005, 11:00 am

If randomness equates to unpredictability by definition, is any type of RNG used for lottery drawings proven defective if someone manages to predict draw numbers? The notion of randomness seems rather subjective. Do we want randomness, or do we even know what it is?

aye'

Randomness and predictibility. it would seem that the two words fit the sentence very well but not really. If one could predict a random event every time it wouldn't be random. because the logic would come into play.

I'd say that it one was to somehow be able to place a camera and link it to a pc for a keno game that uses a computer chip. That the numbers being drawn run in cycles if you had a program that could decipher the numbers and keep track, at some point it would find the numbers that are hitting the most. possibly even 10 numbers that hit more times than others. Now a person trying this would have to start running a tracking program the day they installed the chip and loged it to the keno game and continue running the program until they pulled the chip. But you would have to know the start and stop date. I have been told that when they change the chip for keno draws that they send a message to the terminals letting them know they will be servicing their pc. This usually means they are changing the chip.

On another note i was told that keno is based on a take in pay out percentage. During the machine cycle time it notes all the numbers being played. And pays a percentage of the take. this is one reason i don't like the game because no matter how many times you play the same numbers if other people aren't putting numbers down your chance of winning a ten spot are greatly diminished. So if any computerized drawings are structured like this people are getting robbed.


Comment #8:  MADDOG10  —  June 11, 2005, 4:55 pm

If randomness equates to unpredictability by definition, is any type of RNG used for lottery drawings proven defective if someone manages to predict draw numbers? The notion of randomness seems rather subjective. Do we want randomness, or do we even know what it is?

aye'

  And here I thought everyone lived in the state of "unpredictability"..~  Hmmmmm

    i'm waiting for someone to push the right button...!


Comment #9:  RJOh  —  June 11, 2005, 5:27 pm

What is that saying? "I may no be able to define it, but I know it when I see it."

Maybe that's how randomness works and if you know it when you see it then you can pick a good spot to be in when it happens again.

RJOh 


Comment #10:  Maverick  —  June 11, 2005, 5:49 pm

COMPAQ? Right there is a reason to go with balls.

Hehe, just kidding Compaq usersWink


Comment #11:  Badger  —  June 11, 2005, 10:37 pm

WHat did I miss? If MD is using ball machines to draw their numbers, then why the computer all set up to spit out RNDs??


Comment #12:  time*treat  —  June 11, 2005, 11:50 pm

"Logic circuits are not good sources of spontaneity. "If a math chip inside a computer does something unpredictable, we call it broken,"

-- I thought we had called it the Pentium I.

 


Comment #13:  four4me  —  June 12, 2005, 12:32 am

WHat did I miss? If MD is using ball machines to draw their numbers, then why the computer all set up to spit out RNDs??

Maryland uses a computer to pick the cabnet the balls are locked up in and the machines that will be used to run the ball drawings.

 

Other than that the only time computer is used is for keno. I was trying to explain in my post the problem with computers use in drawing numbers.

Maryland has all ball drawings except KENO


Comment #14:  visiondude  —  June 12, 2005, 2:29 am

 as i am making my way thru the article with all the dna, physicists, random this and random that, the worlds most brilliant "minds" blah blah blah (lol), ........i just know that they are going to say it  ......("but visiondude has the best explanation thus far;  a $1 quick pick + you were meant to") ...but they never say it.

i was a bit let down after that one.  i so crave the adulation of the scientific community by nailing this one so my name will be immortalized in one of these tomes about the lottery.  ok so i don't crave adulation.  but i do press on about proving my three year long "point" here at LP (that the lottery is unpredictable because it is random).

when someone can convince me that those little untainted  ...(as long as they are)...   ping pong balls have memory, and that they can talk to each other to let the ones know that are "due" that it is their turn at picking stardom, then i will concede.  until then the only effort worth it,  is the effort it takes me to hand the clerk a $1 bill.

until then #2; i will watch you guys wrestle over this issue,  and i will be man enough to admit i was wrong should someone in here (hopefully) shows those guys at MIT (or wherever they etcha-sketch this stuff) a thing or three.

i do believe though that the computer draws can be cracked and/or fixed...

  20/20


Comment #15:  LotteryBuddy  —  June 12, 2005, 2:33 am

four4me, if I am not mistaken the Georgia lottery uses a system very similar to this with their balls. They have 4 sets of balls for each game and these sets are rotated in some manner for each draw. Periodically the sets are replaced. This is why I have to roll my eyes a bit when I hear folks say that it is "fixed."

aye, I read a story recently about a mathmetician who had figured out the algorithm used for a particular computerized lottery in Canada. He used the algorithm to win two jackpots in a row for that lottery. Had to go to court and everything because the lottery commision there said that he had cheated. The judge said that even though he was really smart to figure this out, he had not cheated. They changed the algorithm after that to something more complicated. Seems they would have learned their lesson and scrapped the computers altogether.

When I told my husband that the missouri lottery was all computerized he said that we should try and figure out the algorithm they use to generate their random numbers and we could make a killing. As if either of us has the know how to come up with something as complicated as that. Green laugh  -Bonnie

Do you have a link or source for that story?  I have never heard of such a story here in Canada.  I have witnessed the live lottery drawings in Ontario, and they were all ball draws.


Comment #16:  Todd  —  June 12, 2005, 2:51 am

four4me, if I am not mistaken the Georgia lottery uses a system very similar to this with their balls. They have 4 sets of balls for each game and these sets are rotated in some manner for each draw. Periodically the sets are replaced. This is why I have to roll my eyes a bit when I hear folks say that it is "fixed."

aye, I read a story recently about a mathmetician who had figured out the algorithm used for a particular computerized lottery in Canada. He used the algorithm to win two jackpots in a row for that lottery. Had to go to court and everything because the lottery commision there said that he had cheated. The judge said that even though he was really smart to figure this out, he had not cheated. They changed the algorithm after that to something more complicated. Seems they would have learned their lesson and scrapped the computers altogether.

When I told my husband that the missouri lottery was all computerized he said that we should try and figure out the algorithm they use to generate their random numbers and we could make a killing. As if either of us has the know how to come up with something as complicated as that. Green laugh  -Bonnie

Do you have a link or source for that story?  I have never heard of such a story here in Canada.  I have witnessed the live lottery drawings in Ontario, and they were all ball draws.

Interesting about Ontario being lottery balls, because it and Western Canada are the last two lotteries I have been totally unable to get confirmation about for the Lottery Report Card.

If you can absolutely confirm by witnessing that all of the drawings are by lottery balls (not computer), then I can move them into the "good" category.

Unfortunately, not all of Canada's drawings are held with true drawings.  British Columbia uses a computer for all of its drawings (except national 6/49 and Super 7, of course).  Maybe the story originates from B.C.?


Comment #17:  four4me  —  June 12, 2005, 3:30 am

LotteryBuddy the source for the article came from the

Source: Baltimore Sun paper  The science of chance


Comment #18:  JimmySand9  —  June 12, 2005, 3:32 am

four4me, if I am not mistaken the Georgia lottery uses a system very similar to this with their balls. They have 4 sets of balls for each game and these sets are rotated in some manner for each draw. Periodically the sets are replaced. This is why I have to roll my eyes a bit when I hear folks say that it is "fixed."

aye, I read a story recently about a mathmetician who had figured out the algorithm used for a particular computerized lottery in Canada. He used the algorithm to win two jackpots in a row for that lottery. Had to go to court and everything because the lottery commision there said that he had cheated. The judge said that even though he was really smart to figure this out, he had not cheated. They changed the algorithm after that to something more complicated. Seems they would have learned their lesson and scrapped the computers altogether.

When I told my husband that the missouri lottery was all computerized he said that we should try and figure out the algorithm they use to generate their random numbers and we could make a killing. As if either of us has the know how to come up with something as complicated as that. Green laugh  -Bonnie

Do you have a link or source for that story?  I have never heard of such a story here in Canada.  I have witnessed the live lottery drawings in Ontario, and they were all ball draws.

Interesting about Ontario being lottery balls, because it and Western Canada are the last two lotteries I have been totally unable to get confirmation about for the Lottery Report Card.

If you can absolutely confirm by witnessing that all of the drawings are by lottery balls (not computer), then I can move them into the "good" category.

Unfortunately, not all of Canada's drawings are held with true drawings.  British Columbia uses a computer for all of its drawings (except national 6/49 and Super 7, of course).  Maybe the story originates from B.C.?

It must've been BC. They've actually used RNGs since the late 80's, and like other computers at that time, RNGs were not that sophisticated. Now they've refined RNG's so no one can crack them. Of course that comes at the price of not having actual random numbers. It's programmed to appear random.


Comment #19:  Rip Snorter  —  June 12, 2005, 12:59 pm

If randomness equates to unpredictability by definition, is any type of RNG used for lottery drawings proven defective if someone manages to predict draw numbers? The notion of randomness seems rather subjective. Do we want randomness, or do we even know what it is?

aye'

Hi aye..

I agree with you.  Randomness is a fairly weird concept.  Maybe nobody knows exactly what they mean when they say it.  I'd assert it doesn't merely mean, unpredictability.  Life's full of things that aren't predictable, but also aren't random by any definition of the word.

For instance, what could be more random than a Roulette wheel?  But anyone who's spent any time in a casino knows that sometimes people get on runs that are dependable enough to allow anyone with enough savvy to head over to the Roulette table at a dead run when a series of whoops come from that source, and begin topping the bets of the person who's having the streak.

Streaks ain't gonna happen in a universe where random things are actually random.

Jack


Comment #20:  Todd  —  June 12, 2005, 1:12 pm

LotteryBuddy the source for the article came from the

Source: Baltimore Sun paper  The science of chance

He's asking for the source of the Canada story mentioned by atlasshrugged, not the article itself (which is attributed on the Source line).  I, too, would be interested in seeing the source atlasshrugged's story.


Comment #21:  Badger  —  June 12, 2005, 1:18 pm

WHat did I miss? If MD is using ball machines to draw their numbers, then why the computer all set up to spit out RNDs??

Maryland uses a computer to pick the cabnet the balls are locked up in and the machines that will be used to run the ball drawings.

 

Other than that the only time computer is used is for keno. I was trying to explain in my post the problem with computers use in drawing numbers.

Maryland has all ball drawings except KENO

I guess I found it confusing, since in the article they mentioned that the guy pressed a button and a window popped up on the PC that said "Pick 3  2-8-3" or something like that. That seemed to make it look like the computer was all set up to pop out RNDs for the drawings....


Comment #22:  Badger  —  June 12, 2005, 1:22 pm

Rip Snorter wrote>>

Streaks ain't gonna happen in a universe where random things are actually random.

Jack <<<

 

And yet states that use computers (that are supposedly random) continuously have streaks of different kinds....like "4" being in the same position for several days among other things.....So maybe RNGs are so random after all....


Comment #23:  Rip Snorter  —  June 12, 2005, 1:29 pm

Rip Snorter wrote>>

Streaks ain't gonna happen in a universe where random things are actually random.

Jack <<<</p>

 

And yet states that use computers (that are supposedly random) continuously have streaks of different kinds....like "4" being in the same position for several days among other things.....So maybe RNGs are so random after all....

I agree.  Studying the histories and stats easily available on this site it doesn't take a lot of looking to see the six number draws are behaving about the same whether they're comp or ball draws.  And they're rhyming, not just with themselves, but right across the board, both ball and comp...  Been doing it for a long time.

Jack


Comment #24:  ayenowitall  —  June 12, 2005, 1:32 pm

"That (scientific) genre peaked in 1955, when the RAND Corp. unveiled what is still considered the magnum opus of randomness reference books: A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates.

RAND researchers, who required nearly a decade to ensure the numbers in the book passed statistical randomness tests, did confess to cutting one corner.

'Because of the very nature of the tables, it did not seem necessary to proofread every page of the final manuscript in order to catch random errors,' they wrote."

 

Jack,

The above quote from the original news article made the whole thing worth the read. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read that part. After all those years of diligent effort, I think even the folks at the RAND Corporation realized that what they had generated was only a crude approximation of true randomness, whatever that is. I guess maybe that was a pretty strong statement about the true nature of randomness. Maybe even they had sense of humor about what they were trying to accomplish.

When I need random numbers, I generally just use the local phone directory or my calculator and a bit of imagination. Those things have always served me well.

aye' 


Comment #25:  Rip Snorter  —  June 12, 2005, 1:48 pm

"That (scientific) genre peaked in 1955, when the RAND Corp. unveiled what is still considered the magnum opus of randomness reference books: A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates.

RAND researchers, who required nearly a decade to ensure the numbers in the book passed statistical randomness tests, did confess to cutting one corner.

'Because of the very nature of the tables, it did not seem necessary to proofread every page of the final manuscript in order to catch random errors,' they wrote."

 

Jack,

The above quote from the original news article made the whole thing worth the read. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read that part. After all those years of diligent effort, I think even the folks at the RAND Corporation realized that what they had generated was only a crude approximation of true randomness, whatever that is. I guess maybe that was a pretty strong statement about the true nature of randomness. Maybe even they had sense of humor about what they were trying to accomplish.

When I need random numbers, I generally just use the local phone directory or my calculator and a bit of imagination. Those things have always served me well.

aye' 

aye:

I'd sort of hoped the guy intended that sentence you have in red as a joke.... a dry one, but a bellylaugh starter.

I noticed once that a good source of random numbers comes from grading math tests and using the answers to any given problem by budding young intellects.

Jack

 


Comment #26:  Todd  —  June 12, 2005, 1:51 pm

Rip Snorter wrote>>

Streaks ain't gonna happen in a universe where random things are actually random.

Jack <<<</p>

 

And yet states that use computers (that are supposedly random) continuously have streaks of different kinds....like "4" being in the same position for several days among other things.....So maybe RNGs are so random after all....

You are correct, and this is the crux of the problem.  When using computers for lottery drawings, as players, we simply don't know (a) what is going on inside the computer to generate the numbers, (b) if the numbers are truly random or are really following a pattern of some type, and, (c) if there is any fairness to the whole thing.

Eliminating computers and getting back to real lottery drawings is the only satisfactory answer, and instantly and totally eliminates all those issues.  Reverting back to ball machines does not eliminate corruption or fraud from the lottery industry, but it does remove several possible ways to introduce fraud and corruption, and returns a sense of fairness back into the games.

I can imagine the hoopla that a lottery could generate by going from computers to real lottery drawings again!  It could be used as a big marketing tool to really jazz up sinking sales.  A big advertising campaign and televised drawings...  Well, any marketing exec can easily fill in the blanks.


Comment #27:  Rip Snorter  —  June 12, 2005, 2:44 pm

Worth noting that the comp whiz who figured out the artificial randomness generation whizbang they were using got himself into a pickle by telling them too much about what they didn't need to know.... how he beat them twice.

He won, but it cost him time and a court case.... as well as a chance to go for the third jackpot.

Something in all that we all ought to be able to learn from, should we get lucky.

Jack


Comment #28:  time*treat  —  June 12, 2005, 2:58 pm

Worth noting that the comp whiz who figured out the artificial randomness generation whizbang they were using got himself into a pickle by telling them too much about what they didn't need to know.... how he beat them twice.

He won, but it cost him time and a court case.... as well as a chance to go for the third jackpot.

Something in all that we all ought to be able to learn from, should we get lucky.

Jack

I'd like a link to that story.

I think we already know that a person who wins more often that they "should" will be investigated, etc. My guess would be that the guy had a choice of the carrot of telling his method in exchange for payment vs. the stick of being charged with fraud,etc. and spending all manner of his own $$$ to fight the charges.

 

 

 


Comment #29:  Rip Snorter  —  June 12, 2005, 3:08 pm

Worth noting that the comp whiz who figured out the artificial randomness generation whizbang they were using got himself into a pickle by telling them too much about what they didn't need to know.... how he beat them twice.

He won, but it cost him time and a court case.... as well as a chance to go for the third jackpot.

Something in all that we all ought to be able to learn from, should we get lucky.

Jack

I'd like a link to that story.

I think we already know that a person who wins more often that they "should" will be investigated, etc. My guess would be that the guy had a choice of the carrot of telling his method in exchange for payment vs. the stick of being charged with fraud,etc. and spending all manner of his own $$$ to fight the charges.

 

 

 

You might be right overall, but they didn't pay voluntarily.  They took him to court, or they made him take them to court, for payment.  Any number of ways they might have caught him, but one of those ways involves pride of achievement and bragging rights.

Seems to me they'd have had a lot of difficulties getting a grand jury to indict him on fraud if all they had was the evidence of two wins.  Or five.  Or sixteen.

Fraud involves a number of fairly specific holes that have to be filled with fairly specific pegs.  District attorney types can wish all they want, but most grand juries won't buy unless there's good reason to believe a crime has been committed.

But something caught him, and it might have been as you say.

Jack


Comment #30:  NewClub  —  June 13, 2005, 4:03 am

As I said before, if I knew the algorithm they used in generating random number, no matter how complicated it would seems to be, a predicatable subset of numbers could be generated. Here I mean pure algorithm. If quantum events are used as seeds, that would be a different story. But even that would depends on how they digitize the quantum events. If they digitize a clock into 60 different seconds, that is really a piece of cake.

If massachusetts starts to use computer to generate numbers, I will become a RND algorithm expert.


Comment #31:  Rip Snorter  —  June 13, 2005, 8:22 am

As I said before, if I knew the algorithm they used in generating random number, no matter how complicated it would seems to be, a predicatable subset of numbers could be generated. Here I mean pure algorithm. If quantum events are used as seeds, that would be a different story. But even that would depends on how they digitize the quantum events. If they digitize a clock into 60 different seconds, that is really a piece of cake.

If massachusetts starts to use computer to generate numbers, I will become a RND algorithm expert.

Plenty of states are already using computers to generate numbers.  Why wait for Massachusetts if you have the capability of doing that?  Massachusetts uses the same currency as we use here in the United States.  If you can make big bucks breaking the NY lottery algorithm they'll spend in Massachusetts as well as they would if they came from the Massachusetts lottery.

Jack


Comment #32:  time*treat  —  June 13, 2005, 11:09 am

The exact algorithm isn't necessary. You could do quite well on a few 5-of-6 or 4-of-5 matches every week or so. Probably better for you if you don't have the their exact one anyway. The straight path crosses the wavy road in many places.

 


Comment #33:  Rip Snorter  —  June 13, 2005, 7:36 pm

The exact algorithm isn't necessary. You could do quite well on a few 5-of-6 or 4-of-5 matches every week or so. Probably better for you if you don't have the their exact one anyway. The straight path crosses the wavy road in many places.

 

There's at least one human being floating around, maybe a lot more, who knows their exact one. The guy who created or developed it.  How many people, do you suppose, know who he is, how much he gets paid, which kind of recreational drug he prefers?  What particular kind of kinky things he likes to do in the bedroom that he wouldn't want anyone to know about?

Tight security is an illusion in a world where human beings think they have secrets. 

Jack


Comment #34:  atlasshrugged  —  June 13, 2005, 8:17 pm

Ok, sorry I wasn't on last night. Mouse problems. Computer mouse problems. Anyway several people have wondered about the little thing I mentioned about the mathematician who cracked the algorithm in Canada. It was actually part of a larger article about randomness. Here is the link:

http://wetzel.psych.rhodes.edu/

Scroll down until you see a link which says, "Student excecise: Can you act randomly?"

Click that then scroll down to the outline. Click I, B, definition problems, chaos and beating the lottery. There you will find the article. This was written by a professor at Rhodes College in Memphis Tennessee. You would think that a professor would have cited where he got his information but he did not. I have been unable to find anything else on the web about this particular item of interest. -Bonnie

 edit: you will have to copy and paste that link into your browser.


Comment #35:  time*treat  —  June 13, 2005, 10:04 pm

from that link...(thanks, atlasshrugged)
"The authorities arrested him for fraud."

I know you glass-half-full types say "but they let him go". I'm sure he could have found a more enjoyable use for his time than spending even a minute in the clink.

To the exact algorithm thing, usually they handle it like other contests where vendors, their relatives, advertisers, their relatives, etc. are not allowed to participate, lest someone get what our Canadian friend got - minus the payout. Or worse, a human being could be found floating around - in a river. Or suddenly decide to off himself in a park in DC.

 


Comment #36:  Rip Snorter  —  June 13, 2005, 10:41 pm

Or suddenly decide to off himself in a park in DC.

Might be interesting to know just how many of the algorithm creaters have offed themselves, one way or another, or died in plane crashes, car wrecks, etc, before the lotteries felt comfy using their creations.

To the exact algorithm thing, usually they handle it like other contests where vendors, their relatives, advertisers, their relatives, etc. are not allowed to participate, lest someone get what our Canadian friend got - minus the payout.

Those precautions are certainly a beginning, but they really aren't likely to be sufficient to stifle human creativity so long as the incentives are so grand. 

Jack


Comment #37:  Rip Snorter  —  June 15, 2005, 10:45 am

That TN scratcher alert thread on the Lottery Forum seems to say just about anything that needs to be said about the security of lotteries, potential for insider knowledge of algorythms, human weakness, and the chances of anyone coming out to explode things in the courts if they have hard evidence of corruption.

We just buys our tickets, makes our best guesses, and hopes.

All anyone can do, come the end of the day.

Jack