May 26, 2018

Random number generator testsuite

At the suggestion of Linas Vepstas on the Gnu Scientific Library GSL list, this GPL’d suite of random number tests will be named “Dieharder”. Using a movie sequel pun for the name is a double tribute to George Marsaglia, whose “Diehard battery of tests” of random number generators has enjoyed years of enduring usefulness as a test suite.

The dieharder suite is more than just the diehard tests cleaned up and given a pretty GPL’d source face in native C tests from the Statistical Test Suite STS developed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology NIST are being incorporated, as are new tests developed by rgb. Where possible, tests are parametrized and controllable so that failure, at least, is unambiguous.

A further design goal is to provide some indication of why a generator fails a test, where such information can be extracted during the test process and placed in usable form. For example, the bit-distribution tests should eventually be able to display the actual histogram for the different bit n-tuplets.

Dieharder is by design extensible. It is intended to be the “Swiss army knife of random number test suites”, or if you prefer, “the last suite you’ll ever ware” for testing random numbers.

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