One of the key issues created by a continued drive towards digitization is the need to replicate the randomness of nature. Whereas various natural laws including those of physics and probability play a key role in creating truly random outcomes and events, recreating this online is a more complicated proposition altogether.
After all, the formulae that lie behind a great deal of computing rely on logic to operate. But randomness is the antithesis to this. In its purest form, the truly random is genuinely unpredictable, following no rules and being impossible to anticipate.
To get around this issue, we have a clever algorithm called the random number generator. This is a program that runs constantly, generating numbers with no logical patterns or sequence to them. How these numbers are then used is important in several applications. For example, anyone playing Slingo games at Betfair or other leading online casino sites will be relying on an RNG. This is because the game involves a combination of slots and bingo – hence the name. Both of these rely on randomness. In the case of the former, it is a question of recreating actual rotating reels, for the latter, it is simply drawing single numbers one by one, lottery style.
A random number generator essentially works by having a constantly changing number that can be linked to represent a particular position at which the reels of the game will stop. The moment that they stop will generally when the player presses the virtual button and the nature of the randomness means that the same outcome will not be repeated for a considerable amount of time, if at all. The same principle works for online games like roulette in which dictates where on the wheel the ball with fall and in card games to determine which cards will be dealt.
While online casino games may be one of the more entertaining applications of RNGs, they have more serious uses now. For example, the one-time passcodes that banks and other financial institutions issue to authorize payments use a rather more straightforward version of the tech. And, following some fairly worrying findings by Which? about bank security, it may be that these will be used even more in the future to secure bank customers’ money.
The fact that the numbers are always changing helps to add an extra level of security as they can be time-limited. So if potential fraudsters do ever get access to a code, there is a good chance that it may have expired before they have a chance to exploit it.
RNGs also pop up in the world of music streaming when they are used to control the shuffle feature. Even though Spotify has experienced issues in the past, by subtly tweaking the algorithm they have now made sure that music by the same artist should never be played together.
And that, along with all the other practical uses of random number generators, should be music to many people’s ears.