Random Number Test

July 7, 2017

First, we need a random number generator to test. Here is a simple Park-Miller random number generator:

(define seed 20170707)
(define (lcg) (set! seed (modulo (* 16807 seed) 2147483647)) seed)

We also need some auxiliary functions; zero-pad uses digits from the Standard Prelude:

(define (zero-pad n len)
  (let* ((ds (digits n 2)))
    (append (make-list (- len (length ds)) 0) ds)))
(define (make-bits n)
  (let loop ((n n) (bits (list)))
    (if (zero? n) bits
      (loop (- n 1) (append (zero-pad (lcg) 31) bits)))))
(define (one? n) (= n 1))

Our first test counts the number of 1-bits in the output; for n 31-bit random numbers, there should be 31 n / 2 1-bits. We look at a range of two standard deviations around the mean:

(define (count-ones n)
  (let* ((bits (make-bits n))
         (expected (* n 31 1/2))
         (std-dev (sqrt (/ n 4)))
         (lo (- expected (* 2 std-dev)))
         (hi (+ expected (* 2 std-dev))))
    (display "Number of ones: ")
    (display (length (filter one? bits)))
    (newline)
    (display "Expected: ")
    (display (inexact->exact (round lo)))
    (display " to ")
    (display (inexact->exact (round hi)))
    (newline)))
> (count-ones 100000)
Number of ones: 1549923
Expected: 1549684 to 1550316

It took me a few tries to get a test in range; most of them were just slightly outside the expected range. Our second test counts runs:

(define (max-run n)
  (let* ((bits (make-bits n))
         (expected (- (/ (log (* 0.5 31 n)) (log 0.5))))
         (std-dev (/ (log 2)))
         (lo (- expected (* 2 std-dev)))
         (hi (+ expected (* 2 std-dev))))
    (let loop ((bits bits) (current-run 0) (max-run 0))
      (if (null? bits)
          (begin
            (display "Maximum run length: ")
            (display max-run)
            (newline)
            (display "Expected: ")
            (display (inexact->exact (round lo)))
            (display " to ")
            (display (inexact->exact (round hi)))
            (newline))
          (if (zero? (car bits))
              (loop (cdr bits) 0 (max current-run max-run))
              (loop (cdr bits) (+ current-run 1) max-run))))))
> (max-run 100000)
Maximum run length: 21
Expected: 18 to 23

Most of the tests were within range, so it was a better result than the count of 1-bits. As Park and Miller explained, their random number generator is a minimum standard, so we don’t expect a perfect result. You can run the program at http://ideone.com/wW5NJO.

By the way, RANDU, the random number generator that Knuth described as “truly horrible,” doesn’t fare badly on our tests:

(define (randu) (set! seed (modulo (* 65539 seed) 2147483648)) seed)
> (count-ones 100000)
Number of ones: 1549930
Expected: 1549684 to 1550316
> (max-run 100000)
Maximum run length: 22
Expected: 18 to 23

That means our test suite is incomplete, not that RANDU is a good random number generator.

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One Response to “Random Number Test”

  1. Paul said

    I posted on ideone test code in Python. The RANDU generator seems to fail the tests. Other generators like Park-Miller, Java, Python and Ansi C seem to be better.

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