While searching for old notes—that I haven’t found anyway—I returned to an old blog entry and I thought I was kind of unsatisfactory, with be best part being swept under the carpet with a bit a faery dust, and very handwavingly.

So let’s work-out how to uniformly distribute points on a sphere in a more satisfactory fashion.

I am still experimenting with hash functions, and I was toying with the Zobrist hash function[1] that is best known for its use in chess engines. The hash function is conceptually simple: you need a large table of random numbers, indexed, in a chess application, by the position on the board of the piece and by the piece itself. To compute a hash for a whole board configuration, you simply xor all the random numbers together. The hard part is choosing the random numbers.

Before we go on exploring hash functions for look-up, let’s discuss their basic anatomy. This will give us some vocabulary as well as help us identify what are the important characteristics of good hash functions.

The two complicated parts are the reduction gear train and the flaps that re-center the dice so that the machine can pick it up correctly each time.

The gear train is composed of several gear reducers, which are composed of a small gear driving a larger gear (thus many turns of the small, driving gear, are needed for the big one to make a complete rotation). Each large gear share its spindle with a small gear that drives the next stage. The gear box yields a 243:1 reduction (which is to 1). Otherwise the motor spins too fast and just, well, eject the dice from the machine.

The flaps are used to funnel the dice back in the middle of the tray, where it can be picked up again.

* * *

The next step would be to use OCR to read the dice value and see if, in the long run, the tosser is a strong number generator or if it is flawed in some way. Can’t really remember where I got the 16-sided dice, but there are some to be found online.

RT @geologyjesse: Geotwitter, I heard you like meanders, so nature put meanders inside meanders so you can meander while you meander. This… 19 hours ago