Mathalicious: Shuffle

What does it mean for a playlist to be “random?”

Apple’s iTunes software has a “shuffle” feature that lets you listen to your songs in random order, but that hasn’t stopped the Internet from buzzing with complaints that iTunes is anything but random — certain artists or genres tend to get grouped together, some songs never seem to get played, etc. But what, exactly, would a random playlist look like?

In this lesson, students use probability to explore the idea of randomness, as well as the patterns that can emerge from random processes like shuffles. In other words, do random things actually feel random? And is true randomness a desirable characteristic in a playlist?


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Math Topics
High School
9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade

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