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Dice can be used to generate random numbers, and online many random number generators can be found. However, what if you would have a device that creates non-numerical randomness? Think for instance of a large bowl with a great number of cards with single words on them. Each day, you would randomly pick two cards and try to figure out a meaningful relationship between the words. That could perhaps be called a 'random word generator,' or a 'random word connection generator,' but obviously one can introduce randomness in many forms to such a generator. So, what would be the best term to refer to such a generator? I was thinking of 'randomness generator,' but does that make any sense? What suggestions do you have?

Thank you.

  • I am not sure if I quite understand, but maybe you can consider nature, the biggest surpriser! – alwayslearning Jul 28 '16 at 14:29
  • Scientifically, noise, specifically white noise is by definition what you called a randomness generator. – Lawrence Jul 28 '16 at 14:33
  • Thank you. Perhaps I should have added that I was looking for a term to name a device or set of rules that would enable a user to generate random outcomes of different kinds (as opposed to only numbers with a certain range, or only the words in the bowl I mentioned). Sometimes it would generate an idea, sometimes it would generate imagery, sometimes a word, sometimes a melody. – user149854 Jul 28 '16 at 14:34
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    Lawrence2, so from that scientific vantage point 'randomness generator' does make sense? I can relate to noise. It is up to the user of the generator to discern a pattern in it. – user149854 Jul 28 '16 at 14:37
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Fun question. The problem is, algorithms, programs and systems can be designed to generate specific things AT random, but not to generate randomness itself as an abstract construct. An algorithm that generates numbers at random, such as those used for lotteries, is a random number generator. You can also have random word generators as you mentioned, random scenario generators, and so forth. However, they all generate specific concrete things or categories of things, not randomness itself. The only example of something that comes close to generating randomness is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy's “Heart of Gold” vessel powered by an Infinity Improbability Drive: it can produce a whale, a pot of petunias, etc. Even then, it’s generating random things, not randomness. That would be like generating chaos or goodwill. It’s a fascinating idea for a sci-fi novel, but I don’t think it would have any real-world applications. As such, I don’t think the word you’re looking for exists.

  • Thank you. I guess you may be right. But on the other hand, if there are random number generators, random word generators, random scenario generators, and so forth, how would we refer to these generators as a group? Perhaps that would be my question. Thanks for clearing my mind up. – user149854 Jul 28 '16 at 15:04
  • I think you need a generic word, such as "outcome", as in "random outcome generator". Would that work? – Marla Kennedy Jul 28 '16 at 15:11
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I'd call such a device an entropifier.

I'd be sort for entropic modifier of course. You can even look it up:
http://forums.philosophyforums.com/threads/the-metaphysics-of-the-nervous-system-70632-22.html

Anyway it sounds much better than an entropygator (...yes, an entropy generator).

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Randomizer is commonly used for this sort of device. https://www.random.org/lists/ is one example, but google gives over 200k hits for the term.

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