Once upon a time I got into an argument
with my high school CS
teacher about whether the Turbo Pascal random number generator
really generated random
numbers. Being fairly knowlegeable
even as a freshman
, I insisted (correctly) that it really only generated pseudorandom numbers and that no algorithm
could ever generate a truly random number
. She was fairly incensed
, as this was in direct conflict
with what she was trying to teach us at the time.
Now, before you all start dumping on the Rhode Island
school system as being so idiotic
as to hire a nitwit like this woman, I will just point out that she was fired not long after I left, when her incompetency was finally discovered. She then went back to her previous vocation, a franciscan nunnery.
Anyway, she staunchly
insisted that TP could generate real, actual random numbers. So, while she continued with her lesson
, I wrote a little ditty
that would generate a random number, truncate it, convert it to ASCII
, and output it to the line printer
in the corner of the room. I sat for a moment, poised over the "compile
and run" button, and briefly considered what I was about to do. With a mental shrug
and a "Fuck it
", I clicked. The 386
struggled for a moment, then smoothed back out, and the old, decrepit Epson
began shrieking in protest. As Sister Ignorance frantically pushed buttons in an attempt to halt the outpouring of crap, I casually strolled to the printer and examined the output.
"Wow, look at that, recurring patterns!" She glared at me with those squirrelly
little eyes, and I knew I was in for some trouble.
Two hours later, I had time to reflect on my sins
as I cooled my heels in in-house suspension for the first of three days. But my contemplations were sweet
, as I reflected on the last words of our sysadmin as I was dragged from her office, having been thoroughly chewed out for bolloxing the print queue.
"By the way, he's right. They're pseudorandom