Sunday, December 30, 2007

-- Just what I always wanted: a million random digits with 100,000 normal deviates (be careful what you wish for)

I can't believe we actually got this for a holiday present. Every year my dad asks for a list and every year I kid around on it. When I was a teen, he could tell b/c my lists would have, interspersed with real items like CDs and books, intangibles like a house/boat/car/etc. -- they were obviously items he and I both knew were a joke.

Well this year we discovered the world's most obscure book so we added it to the list, never thinking they'd even be able to find it let alone buy it. But buy it they did:
"A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates: Not long after research began at RAND in 1946, the need arose for random numbers that could be used to solve problems of various kinds of experimental probability procedures. These applications, called Monte Carlo methods, required a large supply of random digits and normal deviates of high quality, and the tables presented here were produced to meet those requirements."

628 pages of pure numbers listed neatly in columns. We nearly died laughing when we opened it thinking maybe they bought it as a joke but quickly realized they were serious. I love my dad for wanting us to have this. And anyway now we can look up any normal deviate we might possibly need!

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