[rc5] One in a million? Was Re: Taxes

Stephen Langasek vorlon at dodds.net
Tue Jul 1 14:52:06 EDT 1997

On Tue, 1 Jul 1997, Matt Steinhoff wrote:
>     Either way, it's not something I'm going to lose sleep over. There is
> only one winning key in 72,057,594,037,927,936 possible keys. If my computer
> finds the key, then I'll think about Uncle Sam. Heck, the chances of winning
> the lottery in my state (Florida, USA) is just one in +/-14,000,000. (If my
> computer does find the RC5 key, I may start playing the lottery.)

A clarification... (the mathematician in me stirs :)  Although the chances
of any one key that you check being the correct key are one in
72,057,594,037,927,936, *your* chances of actually finding the correct key
are significantly greater.  Your computer IS checking more than one key,
right?  :-D In fact, most peoples' computers (assuming Pentium grade or
equivalent) are checking upwards of 1x10^5 keys/sec.  Multiply that by
many seconds... say, 1x10^6, a nice round number close to the number of
seconds you might be running the client if you were only able to run it at
nights for a month.  Your probability is then up to... <makes a couple of
tick marks on his monitor as he moves the decimal place over> one in
750,576. Not bad, especially considering it's free. :)

Or to look at it another way--we don't have 14,000,000 computers working
on distributed.net, and won't any time in the forseeable future.
Supposing we had an average of 10,000 computers throughout the run of this
project, and supposing you had an average computer, that would put your
chances of winning at 1 in 10,000, no?  Keep your state lottery, I'm
following the odds...

                              -Steve Langasek

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