True Random Number Generator (TRNG) use external physical phenomena to generate true randomness. I have a TRNG which uses two sources (oscillators) and gives an output of 256 bits. The entropy of TRNG output is 256 bits. The entropy of bit string with N distinct possible combinations is given by log2(N) bits (reference is given below). TRNG claims to have entropy of 1 bit for each input source i.e. totally unpredictable. Is there any relationship between TRNG’s source entropy and output entropy ?


Any help/reply is appreciated please.

Thanks & Regards,

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure the answer to this will depend on the actual design of the generator you are using. And yes, there probably will be some relation between in- and output entropy. $\endgroup$
    – SEJPM
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


Qualified no. There is no relationship between source entropy and the output entropy from a TRNG other than you can't output more entropy than you put in. The actual source entropy rate can vary vastly. Clearly the TRNG output entropy has to be 100%, 1 bit /bit or however you measure it. Otherwise it wouldn't be a TRNG with a statistically flat output.

I like to talk in percentages, with 100% being absolute true randomness. A physical source can produce entropy at any rate from 0 - 100%. I can't imagine a physical source that can naturally produce 100% though. I have built two generators that produce entropy at the rates of 85% and 1.9%. An experimental third outputs at a very very approximate 0.1%.

It's all to do with what happens to the source entropy once you've digitised it. I think of entropy extraction as a distillation process akin to whiskey production. The distillation process is a euphemism for lossy compression of the source entropy. This might be a (non) cryptographic hash, matrix multiplication or just some simple bit folding. Most TRNG devices use custom extraction techniques anyway.

If you start with 85% mash, you only need to refine /compress the mash /entropy by 17% to get 100% pure stuff. Similarly the compression /refinement needs to be 52 fold for the 1.9% mash. So 52 fold compression would result in a 100% rate of entropy. But then consider that you might continue compression /refinement, so in the end you've compressed the 1.9% source entropy 100 fold. Or 200 fold. You still get 100% output entropy and the numbers are exactly just as random. This is why there is no particular relationship between the source entropy and the output of a TRNG.

  • $\begingroup$ I think there is a relationship that the output entropy cannot be greater than the input entropy. It can be less than or equal to, but never greater. E.g. if you have 5 bites of input entropy, you can't inflate it into (say) 6 bits of entropy. $\endgroup$
    – caveman
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @caveman As per my second sentence :-) $\endgroup$
    – Paul Uszak
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 15:35

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