Linear Congruential Generators

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A linear congruential generator is a method of generating a sequence of numbers that are not actually random, but share many properties with completely random numbers. These types of numbers are called pseudorandom numbers.

Contributed by: Joe Bolte (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA


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An LCG generates pseudorandom numbers by starting with a value called the seed, and repeatedly applying a given recurrence relation to it to create a sequence of such numbers. At a glance, the graphs will always look random (except in trivial cases, such as when the modulus is a multiple of the multiplier), but there is actually a sophisticated study of how closely pseudorandom number generators approximate processes that are truly random.



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