On dice and coins: models of computation for random generation

David Feldman    Russell Impagliazzo    Moni Naor    Noam Nisan    Steven Rudich    Adi Shamir

Picture of Dice and Coins In this work we examine the concept of random generation in bounded, as opposed to expected, polynomial time. In order to achieve random generation with such a property, a model of a Probabilistic Turing Machine with the ability to make random choices with any (small) rational bias is necessary. This ability is equivalent to that of being able to simulate rolling any k-sided die (where k is polynomial in the length of the input). We would like to minimize the amount of hardware required for a machine with this capability. This leads to the problem of efficiently simulating a family of dice with a few different types of biased coins as possible. In the special case of simulating one n-sided die, we prove that only two types of biased coins are necessary, which can be reduced to one if we allow irrationally biased coins. This simulation is efficient, taking O(log n) coin flips.

For the general case, where we want to simulate for all k < n a k-sided die, we get a tight (time vs. number of biases) tradeoff; for example, with O(log n) different biases, we can simulate, for any k < n, an k-sided die in O(log n) coin flips.

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