status: *final* (2002/6/3)

- The SRFI Document
- Discussion Archive
- Git repo (on Github)
- srfi-27@nospamsrfi.schemers.org (subscribers only)

This document specifies an interface to sources of random bits, or "random sources" for brevity. In particular, there are three different ways to use the interface, with varying demands on the quality of the source and the amount of control over the production process:

- The "no fuss" interface specifies that
`(random-integer`

*n*`)`

produces the next random integer in {0, ...,*n*-1} and`(random-real)`

produces the next random real number between zero and one. The details of how these random values are produced may not be very relevant, as long as they appear to be sufficiently random. - For simulation purposes, on the contrary, it is usually necessary to know that the numbers are produced deterministically by a pseudo random number generator of high quality and to have explicit access to its state. In addition, one might want to use several independent sources of random numbers at the same time and it can be useful to have some simple form of randomization.
- For security applications a serious form of true randomization is essential, in the sense that it is difficult for an adversary to exploit or introduce imperfections into the distribution of random bits. Moreover, the linear complexity of the stream of random bits is more important than its statistical properties. In these applications, an entropy source (producing truely random bits at a low rate) is used to randomize a pseudo random number generator to increase the rate of available bits.

Once random sources provide the infrastructure
to obtain random bits, these can be used to construct other random
deviates. Most important are floating point numbers of various
distributions and random discrete structures, such as permutations or
graphs. As there is an essentially unlimited number of such objects (with
limited use elsewhere), we do not include them in this SRFI. In other
words, this SRFI is *not* about making all sorts of random
objects---it is about obtaining random bits in a portable, flexible,
reliable, and efficient way.