Sorting question

DunbarX at DunbarX at
Thu Feb 11 00:03:53 EST 2010

If I want to randomize a string of items using the random function as a 
sortKey, say:

put "1,2,3" into temp
sort items of temp by random(3)

The randomization is not nearly as effective as if I say:

put "1,2,3" into temp
sort items of temp by random(100)

If you run this many times to create a list of random strings (like "3,1,2" 
and "2,1,3", etc.) the second version randomizes much better than the 
first. This is a trick that harkens back to early HC. But it occurs to me I never 
really understood the rationale. In fact, I don't understand the syntactic 

This does not work at all:

put "1,2,3" into temp
get random(100)
sort items of temp by it

So the random function must be invoked for each item, item by item, as the 
process progresses. As a sortKey, this seems reasonable. But how does this 
operate, and what does the larger number do so much better?

Thanks in advance...

Craig Newman

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