How random can you get?

This investigation is interesting in itself and uses almost all the ideas we learn in S2.

You get a lot of people to write down 10 numbers chosen at random between 1 and 999,999.

Best to ask maths students and teachers to think and write down a list as close to random as they can make, rather than ask all the students in the Sixth Form Study Area to scribble 10 numbers off the top of their head.

You get lots of round numbers with the second way of asking – in any case, you get a different pattern from when people are seriously trying to make their lists random, and it’s a different investigation.

First, however, before you collect, you think about which random distribution the numbers written will roughly follow, and what deviations from that random distribution you want to test for (your hypotheses).

This neuro-science finding is relevant: babies’ number sense is logarithmic.

See the worksheet.

You need to know about Benford’s Law.

Introduction to Benford’s Law

Worksheet on the maths of Benford’s Law

More maths and more background on Benford’s Law