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Randomness

A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/12/2016 10:18:44 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
I have always thought of randomness in the following way:

The universe is full of processes that we can try to understand and explain. Most processes seem to be logical, that means they follow the laws of physics. But certain processes such as in quantum mechanics seem hard to explain, they seem not to follow logic.
A process that due to its nature can not be understood and predicted even by an ultimately intelligent being is a truly random process. In contrast, a process that can be understood by an ultimately intelligent being is a logical process, even if we as humans with our limited knowledge and intelligence have not yet uncovered its secret.

Here is the problem:
How can we ever be sure a process is truly random? If we don't understand how a process works, how can we differentiate whether it is impossible by nature to understand that process or if we simply don't have the means/intelligence to due so?
Bob13
Posts: 708
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2/12/2016 10:30:44 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:18:44 PM, A1tre wrote:
I have always thought of randomness in the following way:

The universe is full of processes that we can try to understand and explain. Most processes seem to be logical, that means they follow the laws of physics. But certain processes such as in quantum mechanics seem hard to explain, they seem not to follow logic.
A process that due to its nature can not be understood and predicted even by an ultimately intelligent being is a truly random process. In contrast, a process that can be understood by an ultimately intelligent being is a logical process, even if we as humans with our limited knowledge and intelligence have not yet uncovered its secret.

Here is the problem:
How can we ever be sure a process is truly random? If we don't understand how a process works, how can we differentiate whether it is impossible by nature to understand that process or if we simply don't have the means/intelligence to due so?

We can't.
I don't have a signature. :-)
keithprosser
Posts: 1,939
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2/12/2016 11:54:33 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
There is a mathematical proof that it impossible to determine if a series of numbers or digits is random or not, but I think that OP is thinking more in terms of physics than maths.

To take a concrete example so we can talk about it more clearly, let's consider radioactive atoms. The precise time a radioactive atom decays is random - any particular U238 atom might split in the next second or ten thousand years from now. All we can say for sure if we wait a particular length of time (the half-life of u238) there is a 50:50 chance it will split during that period.

The question is whether we could predict the precise time our chosen u238 atom will decay if we knew all the details of its internal state, i.e. if there are 'hidden variables' that - if only we knew them - would mean we could predict the exact time tye split would happen.

AFAIK, no one has addressed the question of hidden variables in the context of radioactivity specifically, but a famous result due to John Stewart Bell (look him up in wikipedia!) demonstrated that hidden variables do not play a part in the quantum phenomenon called entanglement - that is to say, quantum process appear to be genuinely probabalistic and the randomness of quantum mechanics is an intrinsic aspect of reality and not due to our ignorance.

I don't claim to have even tried to prove that last sentence in this post! If you want the full story 'Google is your friend'.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,243
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2/13/2016 1:04:42 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 11:54:33 PM, keithprosser wrote:
AFAIK, no one has addressed the question of hidden variables in the context of radioactivity specifically, but a famous result due to John Stewart Bell (look him up in wikipedia!) demonstrated that hidden variables do not play a part in the quantum phenomenon called entanglement - that is to say, quantum process appear to be genuinely probabalistic and the randomness of quantum mechanics is an intrinsic aspect of reality and not due to our ignorance.

I don't claim to have even tried to prove that last sentence in this post! If you want the full story 'Google is your friend'.

https://www.youtube.com...
Diqiucun_Cunmin
Posts: 2,710
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2/14/2016 3:21:18 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 10:18:44 PM, A1tre wrote:
I have always thought of randomness in the following way:

The universe is full of processes that we can try to understand and explain. Most processes seem to be logical, that means they follow the laws of physics. But certain processes such as in quantum mechanics seem hard to explain, they seem not to follow logic.
A process can't really not follow logic. Logic is the tool that humans use to reason and argue correctly... a process may be hard for us to conceive (e.g. things in nature that follow the rules of hyperbolic or Riemannian geometry), but it doesn't mean it's not logical.
A process that due to its nature can not be understood and predicted even by an ultimately intelligent being is a truly random process. In contrast, a process that can be understood by an ultimately intelligent being is a logical process, even if we as humans with our limited knowledge and intelligence have not yet uncovered its secret.
Firstly, by 'ultimately intelligent' being, do you mean Laplace's demon? Such a demon is very likely impossible to construct by humans, for the computational power it needs would exceed that of the universe. However, is it random just because we can't predict it?
Here is the problem:
How can we ever be sure a process is truly random? If we don't understand how a process works, how can we differentiate whether it is impossible by nature to understand that process or if we simply don't have the means/intelligence to due so?
Let's do an experiment... Pick any number >= 4 (let's say 4). Now input some integer between 0 and 1 into your calculator. Now put 4Ans(1-Ans) into your calculator, and keep pushing EXE. (This, by the way, is called logistic mapping: https://en.wikipedia.org...) What do you get? A mess. This is how we get ostensibly random processes.

When we deal with these processes, unless we know the initial conditions to absolute precision, we can never predict the result accurately. Such is the nature of chaos. We may have the intelligence to approximately understand how it works, but without 100% accurate data, our predictions can be really off (e.g. the Observatory's predictions).

So to answer your question, there are no 'truly random' processes - only processes we'll never get to foresee because of the precision of data that accurate prediction requires. One example of this is the rotation of Hyperion, a satellite of Saturn. Its rotation is determined, but we still cannot predict it because it moves chaotically.
The thing is, I hate relativism. I hate relativism more than I hate everything else, excepting, maybe, fibreglass powerboats... What it overlooks, to put it briefly and crudely, is the fixed structure of human nature. - Jerry Fodor

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Response to conservative views on deforestation:
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Topics I'd like to debate (not debating ATM): http://tinyurl.com...
A1tre
Posts: 223
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2/14/2016 7:01:57 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/12/2016 11:54:33 PM, keithprosser wrote:
There is a mathematical proof that it impossible to determine if a series of numbers or digits is random or not, but I think that OP is thinking more in terms of physics than maths.

To take a concrete example so we can talk about it more clearly, let's consider radioactive atoms. The precise time a radioactive atom decays is random - any particular U238 atom might split in the next second or ten thousand years from now. All we can say for sure if we wait a particular length of time (the half-life of u238) there is a 50:50 chance it will split during that period.

The question is whether we could predict the precise time our chosen u238 atom will decay if we knew all the details of its internal state, i.e. if there are 'hidden variables' that - if only we knew them - would mean we could predict the exact time tye split would happen.

AFAIK, no one has addressed the question of hidden variables in the context of radioactivity specifically, but a famous result due to John Stewart Bell (look him up in wikipedia!) demonstrated that hidden variables do not play a part in the quantum phenomenon called entanglement - that is to say, quantum process appear to be genuinely probabalistic and the randomness of quantum mechanics is an intrinsic aspect of reality and not due to our ignorance.

I don't claim to have even tried to prove that last sentence in this post! If you want the full story 'Google is your friend'.

I have heard of John Stewart Bell before, I will have look into this.