PRNG, or Pseudo-Random Number Generator, is an algorithm used to generate a sequence of numbers that approximates the properties of random numbers. Although the numbers generated by PRNGs may appear to be random and unpredictable, they are determined by an initial value, known as the seed or starting point, and follow a deterministic process. Because of this deterministic nature, PRNGs are not considered truly random but rather “pseudo-random.”
PRNGs are widely used in various applications, including computer simulations, statistical sampling, cryptography, computer games, and procedural generation in computer graphics. They provide a computationally efficient way to generate seemingly random numbers when true randomness is not necessary or achievable.
Components of a PRNG
- Seed: The seed is the initial value or starting point for the PRNG algorithm. It determines the entire sequence of numbers that the algorithm will generate. By using different seed values, different sequences of pseudo-random numbers can be generated. In some cases, the seed is derived from a non-deterministic source, such as the current time or user input, to provide greater unpredictability.
- Algorithm: The PRNG algorithm is a deterministic mathematical function that takes the seed as input and generates the next number in the sequence. The algorithm is designed to produce a sequence of numbers that is evenly distributed, has a long period (i.e., it takes a long time before the sequence repeats), and appears to be statistically random.