Monday, 26 July 2010

Define ‘Random’

Whilst consuming a large number of Rowntrees Randoms, I thought it would be interesting to investigate just how random they are. Surely, to be truly random, each packet would have to contain as many different types of sweets as possible. The more times a single design is repeated, the less random the sweets are.
To truly test this, I decided to buy a large amount of said sweet and count the types a-la Charlieissocoollike’s wine gum experiment. After buying 12 packets of Randoms I spent an hour emptying the packets, counting, and sorting the sweets and, because I’m an utter geek, I thought I’d show you some of the results.

First, the "bio"diversity of the packets. This measures the probability that two sweets randomly selected from a sample will be exactly the same in both colour and design. The higher the number (with the range being between 0 and 1), the higher the diversity and the less likely that the two sweets you pick will be exactly the same. For my sample, I got the figure 0.98327816 so, so far, so good.

Next, the different types. Anyone who has had a packet of Randoms knows that there are four distinct types. The "Ice Cream" which is sort of foamy, the "Fruity" sort, the "Foamy" sort which are like the fruity ones but with a white, foamy bottom, and the "Squidgy" sort which are like the Foamy ones except with a gooey, liquid centre. For increased 'randomness' you would expect the amounts of each to be roughly the same. Around 25% of each type. This isn't so. Waaaaaaaaaaay too many fruity sweets!

Then, you have colour. If you count the "Ice Cream" sort and the "Squidgy" sort as separate colours you end up with this:
A bit of an imbalance with colours there I think. Although the red sweets could be separated into different shades of red, the spread over the different colours still isn't as even as I would hope for a truely random packet. Also, what happened to other colours?! I was hoping for the occasional pink or yellow or even blue sweet but it seems that Rowtrees Randoms are just not quite that random.
Lastly, catagories. When sorting through the sweets I decided that each sweet had a sort of catagory that it fell into. The catagories I came up with were: Food; Clothes/ Accessories; Animal; Transport; Leisure; Nature; Helpful; Sport; Tools; and Other. Again, a nice variety over these catagories would increase randomness.

Although this is a better variety than the types, there are still catagories that dominate. Food, animals, and nature in particular. However, the range is good and it is nice to see that they were so imaginative with some of their shapes that I could not decide which catagory they came under so put them under "other".
 In conclusion, the designs on the Randoms are pretty random. Infact, they couldn't get much more random. However, the range of catagories, colours, and such could be more evenly spaced....

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