June 18, 2024  5 min read
All About 'Random Number Generators'
Our writers have created an informative and educational article to explain the concept of Random Number Generators and their applications, within the context of Computer Science and Blockchain Technology
WHAT IS A RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR?
"A Random Number is a sequence of numbers that have no discernible pattern or order. They appear completely random in statistical distributions, meaning each number is unpredictable."
In computer science, random numbers are widely used in various scenarios such as encryption, security protocols, game development, and data analysis.
In most computer applications, we use pseudorandom numbers. Pseudorandom numbers are generated by algorithms that produce sequences that appear random but are actually predictable. This predictability can pose risks in certain applications. For instance, in security and encryption fields, attackers can analyze the pseudorandom number generator's algorithm and initial state to predict future values, thus compromising the system.
In contrast, true random numbers are generated through physical processes, such as radioactive decay, thermal noise, or photon activity. These processes are inherently random and cannot be predicted by any algorithm, making them more secure and reliable. The generation of true random numbers is complex and hard to forge, making them crucial in highsecurity domains.
APPLICATION OF RANDOM NUMBERS
Random numbers are extensively used in blockchain applications:

GameFi: In GameFi, random numbers are used to generate game event outcomes, such as dice rolls or card draws.

Lotteries and Raffles: In smart contracts, lottery and raffle systems need to generate unpredictable random numbers to ensure fairness and impartiality.

Unpredictable Selection: Some dApps need to randomly select one participant from many to perform specific tasks. For example, in decentralized insurance platforms, a verifier might be randomly chosen to process an insurance claim.

DeFi: In DeFi platforms, random numbers are used to generate transaction parameters, select liquidity providers, etc.
Using Pseudorandom numbers can introduce significant risks. Their predictability can be exploited by malicious actors to manipulate outcomes, compromising the fairness and security of blockchain applications. For instance, in lotteries or raffles, an attacker could predict the winning numbers, leading to unfair advantages. In decentralized finance, pseudorandom numbers can be used to manipulate transaction parameters or select liquidity providers in a biased manner.
Introducing true random number generators can significantly enhance the security and fairness of smart contracts and dApps. They can also boost user trust and experience. As blockchain technology evolves, the application of true random numbers will become increasingly important, becoming a key factor in ensuring the system's fairness and reliability.
THEN WHAT IS QUANTUM RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR?
A Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) is a device that utilizes the principles of quantum mechanics to produce a sequence of numbers that are truly random. Unlike traditional pseudorandom number generators, which are based on deterministic algorithms and can potentially be predicted if the algorithm and initial conditions are known, QRNGs exploit the inherent unpredictability of quantum phenomena such as superposition, entanglement, and the uncertainty principle.
QRNGs generate randomness by measuring quantum systems that are in a state of superposition, where the outcome of each measurement is inherently uncertain and not predetermined. The measurement results, which are influenced by quantum fluctuations, are then translated into a sequence of random numbers. These numbers are considered to have a high level of randomness and are suitable for applications requiring unguessable sequences, such as cryptography, gambling, and scientific simulations.
The key features of QRNGs include:

Intrinsic Randomness: The randomness is derived from fundamental quantum mechanical processes that are not subject to classical deterministic laws.

Unpredictability: The output of a QRNG cannot be predicted without direct measurement due to the nature of quantum mechanics.

HighQuality Randomness: QRNGs can produce random numbers that pass rigorous statistical tests for randomness.

Security: In cryptographic applications, the use of QRNGs can provide a higher level of security compared to PRNGs, as they are immune to certain types of attacks that exploit predictability.
Overall, a QRNG represents a significant advancement in the field of random number generation, offering a source of randomness that aligns with the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics.
QUANTUM RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR VS PSEUDO RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR
PRNGs are computationally efficient and widely used but are limited by their deterministic nature, making them less secure for sensitive applications. QRNGs offer a level of randomness that is underpinned by the laws of physics, making them highly valuable for securitycritical applications. Here is a detailed comparison between the two:
Origin of Randomness

PRNG: Pseudorandom numbers are generated using deterministic algorithms that take an initial value, known as a seed, and produce a sequence of numbers that appear random. The randomness is not intrinsic but is a result of the complexity of the algorithm.

QRNG: Quantum random numbers are derived from the inherent unpredictability of quantum mechanical phenomena, such as the measurement of a quantum system in a superposition of states.
Predictability

PRNG: If an adversary knows the algorithm and the initial seed, they can reproduce the entire sequence of pseudorandom numbers. This predictability is a significant security risk in cryptographic applications.

QRNG: The output of a QRNG is theoretically impossible to predict with certainty, even with complete knowledge of the device and process, due to the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics.
Security

PRNG: For noncryptographic applications, PRNGs are often sufficient. However, in cryptographic contexts, the security of PRNGs is compromised if the seed or algorithm is exposed.

QRNG: QRNGs offer a higher level of security for cryptographic applications because they are based on physical randomness that is not replicable without direct access to the quantum source.
Testing and Validation

PRNG: The quality of pseudorandom numbers can be tested using statistical tests to ensure they mimic true randomness to a certain extent.

QRNG: Quantum random numbers can be validated against the laws of quantum mechanics, and their randomness can be certified through principles like the uncertainty principle and Bell's theorem.
Implementation

PRNG: PRNGs are easy to implement in software and do not require specialized hardware beyond a standard computer.

QRNG: QRNGs require specialized quantum hardware, such as singlephoton detectors, quantum dots, or other quantum systems that can exhibit quantum behavior.