Lipika Deka Lipika Deka - 2 months ago 7
C Question

srand() — why call it only once?

This question is about a comment in this question
Recommended way to initialize srand?. The first comment says that

should be called only ONCE in an application. Why is it so?


That depends on what you are trying to achieve.

Randomization is performed as a function that has a starting value, namely the seed.

So, for the same seed, you will always get the same sequence of values.

If you try to set the seed every time you need a random value, and the seed is the same number, you will always get the same "random" value.

Seed is usually taken from the current time, which are the seconds, as in time(NULL), so if you always set the seed before taking the random number, you will get the same number as long as you call the srand/rand combo multiple times in the same second.

To avoid this problem, srand is set only once per application, because it is doubtful that two of the application instances will be run in the same second, so each instance will then have a different sequence of random numbers.

However, there is a slight possibility that you will run your app (especially if it's a short one, or a command line tool or something like that) many times in a second, then you will have to resort to some other way of choosing a seed (unless the same sequence in different application instances is ok by you). But like I said, that depends on your application context of usage.

Also, you may want to try to increase the precision to microseconds (minimizing the chance of the same seed), requires (sys/time.h):

struct timeval t1;
gettimeofday(&t1, NULL);
srand(t1.tv_usec * t1.tv_sec);