Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The definition!

We use the word 'random' so often, but it suddenly stuck me if such a thing exists? I tried to question what exactly do we mean by something being 'random'?

If a particle's next 'state' can be any one of the defined states with equal probability then do we say that such a particle is in random motion? It has to switch from its current state to the next one for sure... but which exact state can not be predicted! Not a bad start for a definitin I guess!

But here is my problem with this definition. You as an 'observer' are not capable of predicting the next state of the particle... doesn't mean that the particle/(forces around it) does not know where it is heading! Let me explain that...

Imagine the start of this Universe. It is widely believed that the Universe started with a Big Bang. There was nothing before Big Bang (in fact the concept of time started with Big Bang!). Even in Occidental thinking, the world seems to be born out of Sound (Om).

Let me simplify the situation and say that the big bang produced only two particles instead of this entire complex universe. Now these two particles are expected to obey all the laws of physics (well I always wondered why they should... but then ... we believe they do on a time invariant basis! - a ball dropped will bounce back today as it used to bounce back a 100 years ago and as it will bounce back 100 years from now!). In such a case, every particle's next move is predictable based on the laws of physics and their interaction with each other! This state of the particle will predict its next state and the new state should predict the next and so on.... So I wonder if anything in this Universe is truely Random! Everything can perhaps be dictated by its previous state (vis-a-vis the state of the system to which it belongs to).

Let me make that rant simpler... it is the inability of the observer to understand why certain things behave in a certain fashion that brings in the concept of randomness!

For example, to a lay-man on the street the stock exchange phenomena is a random up and down motion! For most of us economies up turn and down turns may be random phenomena! As you unravel and have more deeper insights into these systems, the degree of randomness seems to come down! There seems to be some directed movement and you seem to see trends in what you once felt were haphazard motions!

I was breaking my head when help came in from a friend. I asked him what he thought about randomness and pat came the reply - "There have been research thesis submitted for PhDs to define randomness in absolute terms! So just chill!"

Having said all this, try predicting human emotions and how people deal with you ... and thats where I wonder if 'randomness' does exist - or perhaps I dont understand the emotional landscape that well!