[Beowulf] OT: public random numbers?
Robert G. Brown
rgb at phy.duke.edu
Fri Aug 12 00:31:30 EDT 2011
On Thu, 11 Aug 2011, David Mathog wrote:
> Since this is very OT, I'll try to keep it short.
> Here is the problem - imagine a group of people who neither know nor
> trust each other, yet must agree on the fairness of a single random
> number. Basically they are going to have a lottery. They aren't
> organized enough to generate such a number themselves - it must be found
> from some process already active on the web, and be so obviously "fair"
> that they won't argue about that. Everybody must be able to obtain it
> freely from a web connection.
> Can any of you think of a source on the web for a set of small files
> with these properties:
> 1. from a trusted source (here this mostly means the data is generated
> for some other innocuous purpose)
> 2. represents a largely random process (temperature readings,
> stock market values, etc.) with a set generated at known intervals,
> preferably daily (at least M-F)
> 3. are never, ever, revised
> 4. are distributed reliably (for instance, signed files)
> 5. are publicly and freely available
> 6. can be obtained reliably (is available from many sites)
> So far I have looked at stock market values and weather data - without
> much luck.
> You would think the S&P 500 is the S&P 500 and one could look it up on
> any site and get the same data. Not so! Check the Yahoo and Google
> financial sites for the first few weeks of Jan. 2011 and you will find
> digits that differ between the two sites in every single column. Not
> every day mind you, but often enough that it isn't reliable. Heck, the
> volume numbers differ by large factors between the two sites. So just
> choose one site and go with that? Not so fast - if the single source
> goes down the data is unavailable, and there is no guarantee that the
> site (which is not party to this particular use of their data) might not
> revise the page or choose to block it entirely.
> Or weather data, right? Lots of random bits there and we trust NOAA.
> But good luck with criteria 3-6. In particular, they don't give data
> out for free. In theory no US Government site should, since they are
> supposed to charge to recover distribution costs.
> Criteria 4-6 are typical of software distributed on mirror sites, but so
> far I have not found any physical measurements which are distributed in
> a similar manner.
> David Mathog
> mathog at caltech.edu
> Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech
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Robert G. Brown http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567 Fax: 919-660-2525 email:rgb at phy.duke.edu
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