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Is shuffle mode really shuffle?

Have you ever set the shuffle mode in an application to listen to music, but you feel that the same songs always come up? There’s an explanation for that!

No, it’s not a sign that your ex-partner’s song came up when your playlist was on shuffle; far from it, it’s just that there is an algorithm that makes a logically ordered list shuffle with no way of predicting the outcome. It’s ok if we are fans of coincidences; however, we should always look for a bit of logic in what happens as well.

When a song to which we have added an emotional value appears out of nowhere in our playlist of more than five thousand songs it is because it follows a pattern.

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The developers of these applications have done everything to make your shuffle mode work and work correctly; however, they continue to receive complaints from some customers because apparently, it is not random. How is it possible that within so many songs, I always get the same artist? As a matter of fact, it’s likely that we simply fail to realize they are the only ones to which we pay most attention and, also, are probably one of the artists with more songs in that playlist.

How does the algorithm work?

The most used algorithm is the Fisher-Yates algorithm, and it works like a game of bingo. If you have never played it, but at least you have seen it, you have witnessed how the algorithm works.

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All the numbers ordered from 1 to 90 constitute the ‘array’ sorted numerically; they are put in a drum and shuffled each one is drawn one at a time randomly sorting them according to the order of output, then you have a list of 90 numbers unordered, see it as the playlist.

Spotify’s algorithm, for example, takes into account the length of this playlist and the amount of each type of song, so if there are four Iron Maiden songs in the playlist, they will appear at 25% intervals; thus placing the songs evenly throughout the list.

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The Gambler’s Fallacy

Las Vegas casinos operate on this fallacy, mistakenly believing that past events affect future events as they relate to random activities. Our brain thinks that if we don’t win the last five hands of Blackjack, we will be lucky on the next one.

Applied to music, for some reason we think it is random when we listen to two different songs. But it is simply the lack of uniform distribution that confuses us.

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So, you can listen to the same song twice in a row and several times, even more, when the playlist has few songs and all the songs have the same chance to come out.

Any pattern we try to draw is false, nor is it a divine sign to get back together with your partner.

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