Lottery Numbers

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Just where do people choose their favorite lottery numbers? The answer, most often, is from their everyday lives. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and other important dates are a natural spring of so-called lucky numbers. After all, if your son or daughter was born on a specific day, why shouldn't you hit the lotto jackpot using those very same numbers?

For those grounded in rationality, there's no satisfactory answer to that question. Even the most logical of people, though, look to patterns and trends for a sense of meaning in what they perceive as a completely chaotic universe. Their reasoning often is that there must be some sort of divine or cosmic plan for the bedlam they perceive all around them.

More on Patterns and Lottery Numbers

Do winning lottery numbers follow any kind of prescribed plan? Are they absolutely random? Does it even make a difference? Many people intuitively feel that there's some underlying pattern to the numbers that pop up each night during that minute-long segment they see on TV but often have no idea how to go about interpreting that pattern. This is a question that has plagued great minds for centuries.

The question with lottery numbers, like any other discrete trial, is this: do past results have any bearing at all on future likelihoods? Initially, the answer is an emphatic no; each "experiment" is conducted irrespective of its predecessors. Oftentimes, however, a look at the result sets for repeated trials seems to directly refute this conviction.

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