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RANDOM(3) Linux Programmer's Manual RANDOM(3)


     random, srandom, initstate, setstate - random number generator


     #include <stdlib.h>
     long int random(void);
     void srandom(unsigned int seed);
     char *initstate(unsigned int seed, char *state, size_t n);
     char *setstate(char *state);
 Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
     random(), srandom(), initstate(), setstate():
         _XOPEN_SOURCE >= 500
             || /* Glibc since 2.19: */ _DEFAULT_SOURCE
             || /* Glibc versions <= 2.19: */ _SVID_SOURCE || _BSD_SOURCE


     The  random() function uses a nonlinear additive feedback random number
     generator employing a default table of size 31 long integers to  return
     successive  pseudo-random numbers in the range from 0 to RAND_MAX.  The
     period of this random number generator  is  very  large,  approximately
     16 * ((2^31) - 1).
     The srandom() function sets its argument as the seed for a new sequence
     of pseudo-random integers to be returned by random().  These  sequences
     are  repeatable  by  calling srandom() with the same seed value.  If no
     seed value is provided, the random() function is  automatically  seeded
     with a value of 1.
     The  initstate()  function allows a state array state to be initialized
     for use by random().  The size of the state array n is  used  by  init-
     state() to decide how sophisticated a random number generator it should
     use--the larger the state array, the better the random numbers will be.
     Current  "optimal"  values for the size of the state array n are 8, 32,
     64, 128, and 256 bytes; other amounts will be rounded down to the near-
     est  known  amount.  Using less than 8 bytes results in an error.  seed
     is the seed for the initialization, which specifies  a  starting  point
     for the random number sequence, and provides for restarting at the same
     The setstate() function changes the state array used  by  the  random()
     function.   The  state array state is used for random number generation
     until the next call to initstate() or  setstate().   state  must  first
     have  been initialized using initstate() or be the result of a previous
     call of setstate().


     The random() function returns a value  between  0  and  RAND_MAX.   The
     srandom() function returns no value.
     The initstate() function returns a pointer to the previous state array.
     On error, errno is set to indicate the cause.
     On success, setstate() returns a pointer to the previous  state  array.
     On  error, it returns NULL, with errno set to indicate the cause of the


     EINVAL The state argument given to setstate() was NULL.
     EINVAL A state array of less than 8 bytes was specified to initstate().


     For   an   explanation   of   the  terms  used  in  this  section,  see
     allbox; lbw23 lb lb l  l  l.   Interface Attribute Value  T{  random(),
     initstate(), setstate() T}   Thread safety  MT-Safe


     POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008, 4.3BSD.


     The  random()  function  should  not  be used in multithreaded programs
     where reproducible behavior is required.  Use random_r(3) for that pur-
     Random-number  generation  is a complex topic.  Numerical Recipes in C:
     The Art of Scientific Computing (William H. Press, Brian  P.  Flannery,
     Saul  A.  Teukolsky, William T. Vetterling; New York: Cambridge Univer-
     sity Press, 2007, 3rd ed.)  provides an excellent discussion of practi-
     cal random-number generation issues in Chapter 7 (Random Numbers).
     For  a  more  theoretical  discussion  which also covers many practical
     issues in depth, see Chapter 3 (Random Numbers) in  Donald  E.  Knuth's
     The  Art  of Computer Programming, volume 2 (Seminumerical Algorithms),
     2nd ed.; Reading,  Massachusetts:  Addison-Wesley  Publishing  Company,


     According  to  POSIX,  initstate() should return NULL on error.  In the
     glibc implementation, errno is (as specified) set  on  error,  but  the
     function does not return NULL.


     getrandom(2), drand48(3), rand(3), random_r(3), srand(3)


     This  page  is  part of release 4.16 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
     description of the project, information about reporting bugs,  and  the
     latest     version     of     this    page,    can    be    found    at

GNU 2017-09-15 RANDOM(3)

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