Let's say you are looking to collect some randomness from your computer. At a given time stamp, you can always collect the following 16bits as part of the time stamp:

  • First 5 bits are fixed and always the same
  • The next 4 bits are not perfectly random and exhibit a probability of 1/8 for the different possibilities
  • Finally the last 7 bits are perfectly random, always

What would be the min entropy of one time stamp?

My intuition thinks the min entropy would be 3 bits (from the 4 imperfect bits) + 7bits from the last section, giving Min Entropy = 10 bits for one time stamp. Does this make sense?

EDIT: Rephrased the 2nd bullet point

  • $\begingroup$ Your second sentence makes no sense. There are 16 possible combinations, they can't all have the probability 1/8, since that's 200%. Also that'd be uniform "perfectly random". $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ You're right, let me rephrase it. $\endgroup$
    – guy
    Oct 25, 2016 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ I still don't get your second point. You mean that 8 of the 16 possible values are chosen with probability 1/8 and the other 8 possible values are never chosen? $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ Yes exactly! Let me know if I should rephrase it again. I understand it is strange. (Hence my confusion) $\endgroup$
    – guy
    Oct 25, 2016 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ The math sounds about right to me. $\endgroup$
    – SEJPM
    Oct 25, 2016 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


If your probabilities are exact, then your math is right. But even if they are off by the slightest amount (e.g. $2^{-10000}$), it doesn't hold any more. For a practical system like timestamps in a computer, it's quite unlikely that your have exact values for the probabilities. If those probabilities are average measurements, then the resulting entropy is also only an average and not a lower bound (minimum).

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks tylo. For this theoretical case it is exact but I understand your point. $\endgroup$
    – guy
    Oct 26, 2016 at 13:22

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