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# Maryland Lottery a case study in the science of random numbers

Topic closed. 37 replies. Last post 11 years ago by Rip Snorter.

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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 2:33 am - IP Logged

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.   -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.

Chief Bottle Washer
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 2:51 am - IP Logged

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.   -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.?

Check the State Lottery Report Card

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MD
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 3:30 am - IP Logged
LotteryBuddy the source for the article came from the

Source: Baltimore Sun paper  The science of chance

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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 3:32 am - IP Logged

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.   -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.

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New Mexico
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 12:59 pm - IP Logged

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

Chief Bottle Washer
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 1:12 pm - IP Logged
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.

Check the State Lottery Report Card

Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
Help eliminate computerized drawings!

Wisconsin
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 1:18 pm - IP Logged

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....

============

How can you tell if a politician is lying?

Wisconsin
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 1:22 pm - IP Logged
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....

============

How can you tell if a politician is lying?

New Mexico
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 1:29 pm - IP Logged
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

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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 1:32 pm - IP Logged

"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'

New Mexico
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 1:48 pm - IP Logged

"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

Chief Bottle Washer
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 1:51 pm - IP Logged
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.

Check the State Lottery Report Card

Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
Help eliminate computerized drawings!

New Mexico
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 2:44 pm - IP Logged

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

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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 2:58 pm - IP Logged

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.

In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

New Mexico
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 Posted: June 12, 2005, 3:08 pm - IP Logged

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

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