science = determinism?

Peter Seebach seebs at plethora.net
Mon Nov 29 17:10:18 EST 1999


In article <81rq6k$7bo$1 at pyrite.mv.net>, Bill Todd <billtodd at foo.mv.com> wrote:
>I don't believe that the result of the toss of a two-headed coin is properly
>characterized as 'random' simply because there is a small but finite
>probability that the coin will wind up on its edge.

Hmm.  I would call it random, because we have no plausible way to predict it
reliably.  Indeed, a friend of mine has seen the edge thing happen.

But it's still unpredictable, thus, random.  You may be able to make a good
*guess*, but that's not a full-blown prediction.

>2 a : relating to, having, or being elements or events with definite
>probability of occurrence <random processes> b : being or relating to a set
>or to an element of a set each of whose elements has equal probability of
>occurrence <a random sample>; also : characterized by procedures designed to
>obtain such sets or elements <random sampling>

>The first definition (1a) is pretty much the one I've been suggesting.  2a
>seems to be the one others have been suggesting.  2b is the one I first
>suggested, without thinking about it in sufficient depth.

Oh, I see.

Okay, as I said in another post, note that different subfields use things
differently.  There's such a thing as a "test for randomness", and one of the
criteria is that each result be equally probable.  That's a different "kind"
of random.

Mea culpa; I forgot about that since I almost never use it.  I *HATE*
statistics, mostly because I made the mistake of taking a non-honors course
in it, where they refused to explain where all the weird equations come from.

(I can't stand unexplained formulae.)

-s
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