# Random number cycles

Random number generation is often done by applying a function recursively to a seed number. The function needs to be bounded to a certain domain. Obtaining a function that is bounded is easily done by applying the modulo operation on the base function. The function must be deterministic. For example the following function

$f(x) = (x + 1) % 3$

will supply us with the sequence $$0,1,2$$ looping indefinitely if we take seed value $$0$$. If we want to detect the cycle in a sequence we can use the equation $$X_n = X_{2n}$$ for some $$n$$. Proofing this relation is left as an exercise. Now we can create some code to detect cycles for a function:

def period_fun(f, x0):
"""return length and start of recursively
applied function 'f' with start value 'x'"""
x1 = f(x0)
x2 = f(f(x0))
n = 1
while x1 != x2:
x1 = f(x1)
x2 = f(f(x2))
n += 1

xl = f(x1)
l = 1
while xl != x2:
xl = f(xl)
l += 1

xm = x0
m = 0
while xm != x1:
xm = f(xm)
x1 = f(x1)
m += 1

return l, m, xm


In this code the l indicates the length of a period, and m is the index of the first digit of the cycle. To test if this works, let’s define a recursive function. A famous random number generating function by Von Neumann is the Middle-square method. It is here implemented for 2-digit numbers.

def middle_square2(d):
return int(str(d * d).zfill(4)[1:3])


Here is a image from the wikipedia, showing the possible cycles: Let’s see if our results compare with a simple test.

from numpy import zeros
n = 100
result = zeros((n, 4))
for i in range(100):
l, m, e = period_fun(middle_square2, i)
result[i] = [i, l, m, e]


Now visualize our results with matplotlib, the default Python workflow.

import maptlotlib.pyplot as plt
fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 3)
ax.hist(result[:,1])
ax.set_title("cycle length")
ax.hist(result[:,2])
ax.set_title("init sequence length")
ax.hist(result[:,3])
ax.set_title("end number")
plt.show() It looks like it works, you can also rewrite the period_fun to take sequences instead of a function. Try to implement it yourself. Also test some other functions to see what happens.