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10.38 Random Number Generator—library(random)

This library module provides a random number generator using algorithm AS 183 from the Journal of Applied Statistics as the basic algorithm. This algorithm is not cryptographically secure.

The state of the random number generator corresponds to a term random(X,Y,Z,B) where X is an integer in the range [1,30268], Y is an integer in the range [1,30306], Z is an integer in the range [1,30322], and B is a nonzero integer.

The random generator starts with the same default initial state on each run. See setrand/1 for a way to initialize the random number generator with a new state when a more unpredictable initial state is desired.

Exported predicates:


returns the random number generator’s current state


sets the random number generator’s state to RandomState. RandomState can either be a random state previously obtained with getrand/1, or an arbitrary integer. The latter is useful when you want to initialize the random state to a fresh value. If RandomState is not an integer or a valid random state, it raises an error.

The initial state of the random number generator is always the same. This means that subsequent runs will generate the same sequence of random numbers. This gives reproducible results which is good for testing but not always desirable. One way to get a new initial state is to set it based on the current time, e.g. by calling something like the following predicate early in your program:

    :- use_module(library(system), [now/1]).
    init_random_state :-

succeeds determinately with probability 1/2, fails with probability 1/2. We use a separate "random bit" generator for this test to avoid doing much arithmetic.


succeeds determinately with probability Probability, fails with probability 1-Probability. Arguments =< 0 always fail, >= 1 always succeed.

maybe(+P, +N)

succeeds determinately with probability P/N, where 0 =< P =< N and P and N are integers. If this condition is not met, it fails. It is equivalent to random(0, N, X), X < P, but is somewhat faster.


unifies Uniform with a new random number in [0.0,1.0)

random(+L, +U, -R)

unifies R with a random integer in [L,U) when L and U are integers (note that U will never be generated), or to a random floating number in [L,U) otherwise.

random_member(-Elem, +List)

unifies Elem with a random element of List, which must be proper. Takes O(N) time (average and best case).

random_select(?Elem, ?List, ?Rest)

unifies Elem with a random element of List and Rest with all the other elements of List (in order). Either List or Rest should be proper, and List should/will have one more element than Rest. Takes O(N) time (average and best case).

random_subseq(+List, -Sbsq, -Cmpl)

unifies Sbsq with a random sub-sequence of List, and Cmpl with its complement. After this, subseq(List, Sbsq, Cmpl) will be true. Each of the 2**|List| solutions is equally likely. Like its name-sake subseq/3, if you supply Sbsq and Cmpl it will interleave them to find List. Takes O(N) time. List should be proper.

random_permutation(?List, ?Perm)

unifies Perm with a random permutation of List. Either List or Perm should be proper, and they should/will have the same length. Each of the N! permutations is equally likely, where length(List, N). This takes O(N lg N) time and is bidirectional.

random_perm2(A,B, X,Y)

unifies X,Y = A,B or X,Y = B,A, making the choice at random, each choice being equally likely. It is equivalent to random_permutation([A,B], [X,Y]).

random_numlist(+P, +L, +U, -List)

where P is a probability (0..1) and L=<U are integers unifies List with a random subsequence of the integers L..U, each integer being included with probability P.

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