How to test a random number generator (2010)


Acton’s book is an entertaining read, but how well has it stood up? Computing power and software have advanced so much in the 40 years since he wrote it, it’s not clear that the cautionary tales he tells are still as relevant. He might tell you a story of how 20 minutes of thought could have saved an investigator 20 hours of computing time. Now however, that same computer program, or a more robust off-the-shelf one, might run in a couple of seconds. So why think? 😉

You could argue that the complexity of problems has grown as computing power has grown, so that thought is as necessary as ever. However, I might counter that more complex problems are difficult to tackle in the way the problems in Acton’s book can be tackled. Don’t the problems in Acton’s book seem rather… quaint?

I think if I were going to recommend a book for learning practical, hands-on numerical computing, I would recommend Numerical Recipes.

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