25 June 2014

It is so random! Or is it? The meaning of randomness

The concept of “random” is a tough one. First there is the problem of lexical ambiguity. There are colloquial meanings for random that don’t totally tie in with the technical or domain-specific meanings for random. Then there is the fact that people can’t actually be random. Then there is the problem of equal chance vs displaying a long-term distribution. And there is the problem that there are several conflicting ideas associated with the word “random”. In this post I will look at these issues, and ask some questions about how we can better teach students about randomness and random sampling. […]