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Vivien Chen's picture

How Random is Randomness anyway?

 For my final performance, done with Toan and Kerlyne, we decided to focus on randomness and chance. Those topics were ones that we felt stuck with us and impacted us greatly. It is also a topic that still perplexes me. In order to show how randomness is still very much "controlled" by other factors, we decided to choose ten different topics (covered in class) to put in a hat (or basket, rather). Then, we assigned random numbers to each student, and this was done by having them count off. Professors Dalke and Grobstein each chose two numbers (from one to however many students in class) and those four students randomly chosen picked out of a hat and randomly chose a topic. The four topics chosen were ones that Toan, Kerlyne, and I rearranged in whichever order we wanted to, and then talked about how each influences us and how each one connects to one another. Even though Kerlyne, Toan, and I tried to use randomness to present our ideas there was still a great amount of "control" involved and I hope we showed this. The students who randomly chose a topic in the basket: the method in which they picked the topics was completely random, but yet it wasn't completely random since Toan, Kerlyne, and I knew the topics beforehand. We were the controllers; we systematically picked ten distinct topics and placed them in the basket. The method of choosing the four students was also random, but again a pattern was still involved - a counting pattern. Controlled factors still existed: the number of students in class, counting off in a set pattern, and the possibility that students sat in the same seat for each class - so would this mean that it could have been more random if we started the count-off in the middle of the classroom, rather in the predictable beginning? With this in mind, is there a way to achieve complete randomness? Does it exist?

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