true random numbers : Java Glossary

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true random numbers

There are two kinds of random numbers, pseudo random numbers that can be rapidly generated from mathematical formulae and true random numbers, generated from some random physical process such as radioactive decay. We are discussing true random numbers here.

Creating true random numbers requires considerably more effort than pseudo-random ones. You need to build a peripheral that is a true random number source. This would be useful for creating one-time cryptography pads and also in various simulations. Here are several ways it could work:

Choosing a Hardware Generator

Make sure you consider:

  1. Cost
  2. Speed
  3. Does it work with your OS (Operating System)?
  4. Ease of Installation.
  5. Does it come with the software you need?
  6. Does it come with sufficient documentation that you can write your own software to drive it?
  7. How helpful are the support people.

How Hardware Generators Work

Most of the generators use a noisy transistor to produce the random bits. They then pump them out a USB port. Here is how the TrueRng people explained you go from there:

Since the TrueRNG displays itself as a usb serial device, in windows an inf file is needed as a driver. Once the driver is installed the TrueRNG looks like a standard serial port. So in Java, you would access it just like any other serial device (or com port) which makes it really easy to work with.

From there the only commands the TrueRNG takes is raising and lowering the DTR signal (which is done through the serial interface). When DTR signal is present it will begin pushing data out to the port until DTR is lost. So if you need 1600 bytes of data, you would just raise DTR, keep reading the port until 1600 bytes are received and then lower DTR. There is technically no reason why you would need to raise and lower DTR, you can simply just read the port when you need data and ignore it when you don’t, but some people feel better not having the TrueRNG spew random numbers out all the time.

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