Shuffle Randomness?

Discussion in 'iPod' started by barr08, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. barr08 macrumors 65816

    barr08

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    Boston, MA
    #1
    I have a blue nano, and have just recently started to use shuffle while listening to my music. Is the shuffle really random? I have found that I will hear many songs by the same group or artist in a row, even if there are only 3 songs by them on a 100 song playlist. Is it actually random, or is there some sort of algorithm that is making it do this?
     
  2. Silver-Fox macrumors 65816

    Silver-Fox

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    #2
    i think it plays some of your top most played and it may depend on how many songs you have on your ipod
     
  3. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

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    #3
    it's calculated by an algorithm, as true randomness is difficult to achieve (as I understand it). I too have noticed it seems to have a preference for songs by one artist, or will only play songs you've listened to recently.
     
  4. Mr. Amiga500 macrumors regular

    Mr. Amiga500

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    #4
    I stopped listening on shuffle mode because it was disturbingly non-random. Whatever algorithm they're using, it needs improvement.
     
  5. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

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    #5
    Ditto. Well- it might not disturb me, but it's non-random enough to make me not want to use it. For a long time I hoped they'd fix it in iTunes updates, but I've since stopped caring... I don't think it's major enough to merit revision.
     
  6. panoz7 macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

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    #6
    I still think it needs improvement... but messing with this slider helped a bit:
     

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  7. Scottyk9 macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    "non-randomness" is frequently perceived because many do not understand probability and randomness.

    if I have a 6 sided die, the probability of rolling a 6 is 1/6.
    if I roll a 6, the probability of rolling a 6 on the next roll remains 1/6
    however, many expect that the previous rolling of 6 impacts the probability of the next roll (which it of course does not)

    thus when two songs from the same artist play back-to-back, it is perceived as being very non-random, when in fact it may not be.

    the "smart shuffle" option actually makes it less random - if a song is played by an artist, the probability of selection of the next song is modified such that it becomes less likely that the same artist will be played
     
  8. Draythor macrumors 6502

    Draythor

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    #8
    Have you got it on shuffle songs or shuffle by album on your iPod?
    That would explain why it plays them like that.
     
  9. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    Nov 25, 2005
    #9
    True randomness (or something that cannot be distinguished by it) is not that difficult to achieve. What is more difficult is to get something that the listener perceives as "random". I thought there was a switch somewhere in some user interface between "really random" (which _is_ random, but people think it's not because there are more coincidences) and "feels random" (which is _not_ random, like songs from the same album would be more rare than in a true random sequence).
     
  10. yetanotherdave macrumors 68000

    yetanotherdave

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    #10
    You are right in that the second roll isn't affected in anyway by the first (as individual instances they are not affected by each other), and the probability of a 6 on the second roll is 1 in 6, just as it was on the first roll, but getting two in a row is dependent on the first roll being a 6, making the odds 1 in 6 x 1 in 6, = 1 in 36
     
  11. Mr. Amiga500 macrumors regular

    Mr. Amiga500

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    #11
    I think part of the problem is that once played, a song is not removed from the remaining selection like it is on a CD player. Because of this, some songs play way too often and some songs aren't played at all. This could be easily fixed.
     
  12. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

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    #12
    i agree that percieved randomness is different than true randomness... But here are some examples of what I've experienced.

    -I go a month listening to Wilco, Cinematic Orchestra, and Anokha. I start wanting something different, so I turn on shuffle. And what do I hear? The first 3 songs by one of those artists, followed by one song by Husky Rescue, and then 4 more by those three artists. In a library of over 13,000 songs,and a recurring behavior, does that sound random to you?

    -I would often choose shuffle to try to find new music in my library to enjoy. I'd get sick of a set of artists (like above) and actively put it on shuffle and sift through. More often than not I would hear songs from exactly the artists I was trying to move away from, and at times, iTunes would even begin repeating itself. For example, I would hear Song A, Song F, Song Q, Song B, and then after pressing "Next" numerous times would hear Song A, Song F, Song Q, Song B again in that order. Now I know the chance of this happening in a true random environment exists, but keep in mind these were long sequences, again in a library of 13,000. And it happened repeatedly.

    I'm not whining about it, don't get me wrong. I think iTunes is great and I can deal with choosing the next song myself. But I went through high school math like all the rest of you, and this does not sound like chance to me.

    More similar reports: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=79410&highlight=shuffle+random+itunes
     
  13. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #13
    afaik they are. if anything i'd rather not have the song removed. that would make it even more random because it'd be pulling out a song at random from the pool each time. as it is now it basically creates a behind the scenes playlist. seriously. otherwise how could you skip back to a track and still have the same song play after it?

    it does need improvement, but it works well enough for now.
     
  14. Pistol Star macrumors newbie

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    #14
    A math professor of mine embarked on a tangential discussion of randomness in class one day. He knew another professor who gave as a homework assignment to his students a coin flip experiment: they were to flip the coin some large number of times (N, I don't recall it) and record the results on a sheet of paper and bring it in. As they handed them in, he would would quickly scan them and go: "Fake." "Fake." "Fake.". Everyone who had just blown it off by just scratching down some "random" sequence of H(eads) and T(ails) was caught out in seconds. After they were all in he informed the surprised students that his search algorithm was to look for five H's or T's in a row. If there wasn't one, he called it a fake. He had chosen N such that the non-occurance of such a string would have had a very low probability.
     
  15. Scottyk9 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    ok, but that may not be informative.

    the odds of rolling a 6, followed by rolling a 3 (or any other number of your choosing) is also 1 in 36
     
  16. kuebby macrumors 68000

    kuebby

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    #16
    But that is assuming you want a 6 then a 3. To get two 6s in a row is 1/36 but if there are 100 songs and 1-10 are by artist A then getting two songs in a row from artist A is 1% so it will happen quite a bit if you listen to your shuffle a lot. Plus it becomes more likely the more artists you have that have multiple tracks.
     
  17. Tom B. macrumors 65816

    Tom B.

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    #17
    If you turn off repeat, while shuffling, it will not play the same song more than once. Easily Fixed? :)
     
  18. synth3tik macrumors 68040

    synth3tik

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    #18
    to a computer there is no true random, everything is an equation. You can how ever adjust the likely hood of hearing the same some again in the settings.
     
  19. Le Big Mac macrumors 68020

    Le Big Mac

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    #19
    But the odds of getting the same two numbers in a row are 1 in 6. So, if you have 10 artists with 10 songs each, then there's basically a 1 in 10 chance of having the same artist with two in a row.
     
  20. barr08 thread starter macrumors 65816

    barr08

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    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #20
    Shuffle songs. What is the difference? I have no idea.
     

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