Is thermal noise nondeterministic?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Saith, Nov 8, 2007.

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  1. Saith Registered Senior Member

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    quote: Until fairly recently, cpu's had no direct way to generate random numbers. Intel's Pentium III introduced a hardware random number generator that uses thermal noise "to generate high-quality random and nondeterministic numbers".

    Wikipedia says thermal noise (a.k.a. Johnson–Nyquist noise) is "the electronic noise generated by the thermal agitation of the charge carriers (usually the electrons) inside an electrical conductor at equilibrium, which happens regardless of any applied voltage."

    Is thermal noise simply more random than taking a sample of the system clock to generate a random number, or does it follow the laws of quantum mechanics and is truly nondeterministic.
     
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  3. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    My guess is that thermal noise is truly random, Note that computer alogorithms result in pseudo random sequences of numbers.

    Note that the concept of randomness is more complex and subtle than most people realize.

    My Mathcad application provides 15-20 pseudo random number generators. One size does not fit all simulation applications.

    I would expect thermal noise to produce a specific probabilty distribution and not be usable for all applications.

    BTW: The system clock is not used as a pseudo random number generator. It is only used to prevent pseudo random number generators from producing the same set of numbers every time you restart the program.
     
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  5. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    thermal noise or "white noise" is indeed a better way to generate random numbers. any approach that deals with the system clock must use some kind of formula.
     
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