## iTunes Truly Random… or Possessed?

Posted December 9th, 2005 @ 09:48am by Erik J. Barzeski

From a playlist 4000 songs long, is this really random or is this that "less random" thing Steve Jobs talked about in iTunes 5 or 4 or whatever it was?

In my car the other day, "Cecilia" by Simon and Garfunkel came on, followed by "Cecilia" by Ace of Bass. The latter is, naturally, a song about the (girl in the) former.

### 6 Responses to "iTunes Truly Random… or Possessed?"

Posted 09 Dec 2005 at 6:25pm #Party Shuffle has always been a little whacky like that. Do you use ratings? If so is the "play higher rated songs more often" checkbox er, checked?

Other than that, random is random ðŸ™‚

Posted 09 Dec 2005 at 11:34pm #Despite the fact that it has a 1/16000 chance of happening doesn't mean it can't happen. You have to look at the frequency of this happening, and given that this is the first time you've ever posted about this since Party Shuffle was introduced, I'm betting that you won't be seeing this happening until you go through another 16000 songs in Party Shuffle.

Posted 10 Dec 2005 at 8:07am #Simone - I think you've got your calculations wrong.

Erik is currently playing Two Knights and Maidens. The following song could be any one of 4000 songs - the chances of it being Two Knights and Maidens again, given he's already playing it, are therefore 1 in 4000.

Posted 10 Dec 2005 at 9:16am #Just to pick nits.. "random is random" is true, but anything "random" generated by a computer isn't random, it's pseudo-random. I think that a pseudo-random sequence is not as likely as a random sequence to repeat itself, but I know next to nothing about the greater perspective.

Posted 10 Dec 2005 at 1:35pm #Jesper, it's more random than a person picking numbers.

Posted 10 Dec 2005 at 4:09pm #Well, I originally saw 400 instead of 4000. But I was talking about the chance that iTunes would play "Two Knights and Maidens" in a row (which should be 1/16000000). But yes, you're also right that if you accept that he's already playing "Two Knights and Maidens", then the chance that it will play again right afterwards would be 1/4000. Of course, it would also be 1/4000 for the chance that any two songs would play in a row (since the probability of a song playing is 1, and then the probability of that same song playing again is 1/4000).

Ah, probability.