Pick a Number between Zero and Infinity...

David J. Chalmers

From: dave@cogsci.indiana.edu (David Chalmers)
Newsgroups: sci.math,sci.math.num-analysis
Subject: Re: call for votes: most & least boring numbers
Date: 17 Jan 90 20:40:02 GMT

In article <18311.25b44848@merrimack.edu> ain14924@merrimack.edu writes:

This reminds me of a little experiment I did a couple of years ago. I stood on a busy street-corner in Oxford, and asked passers-by to "name a random number between zero and infinity." I was wondering what this "random" distribution would look like.

The results: (most common numbers first, out of about 150 responses in all):

Of course a uniform distribution is a priori impossible so I couldn't have expected that :-). Even a logarithmic distribution is impossible (it has infinite integral). Interestingly enough, this distribution, taken coarsely, was quite close to logarithmic up to 1000 or so. There were roughly the same number of 2-digit responses as 1-digit responses, and a few less 3-digit reponses. Then things fell off sharply, however.

Other interesting features:

Then I could tell you about the "random word" experiment I did on Sydney harbour...perhaps another time.