ITP Thesis Week 2009
Monday, May 4 - Friday, May 8

Randomness: Friend or Foe?

Rodrigo De Benito

Three pieces of software for three user-scenarios linked by the ideas of randomness and luck.

A life, even a day, ruled by randomness is not possible; the sole idea is terrifying. However, interactions with chance in leisure activities are mostly desirable; “Wanderer” is a mobile application that gives the user directions for a random walk.
Human limitations concerning the understanding of randomness prevent us from behaving randomly or making decisions by chance. Unlike computers, we cannot generate truly random data consciously. In spite of this, inaccuracies or gestures can generate data that is almost unpredictable. The “Browser Randomizer” tracks a browsing experience, retrieving afterwards this data for the next user.
In the same way, individual decisions have direct influence on a collective of people. The ITP class lottery is the system that takes each student’s class wish-list and using randomness and a set of priority rules, returns the final registration list each semester. Misunderstandings and misuse of this program lead to frustration among the students. The “ITP Class Oracle”, is a simulator that aims to clarify the functionality of the original algorithm as well as provides users with the opportunity to interact with the latter several times to understand the role of chance in this process.