Shuffle randomness not really random?

Discussion in 'Windows Media Player' started by Stephen Dedalus, Dec 1, 2004.

  1. Is the algorithm for selecting playlist entries in WMP 9 & 10 in shuffle mode
    weighted somehow? It certainly seems that I hear a smaller subset of
    playlist entries played back with this feature engaged than I would otherwise
    expect. I completely understand that humans are lousy at recognizing
    randomness, but this is the result of (admittedly unscientific) casual
    analysis over the past few months. It seems like WMP tries to genre-match or
    use a hit-count to pick more likable tunes or natural transitions, rather
    than letting entropy take over. This problem (or my peception of it) is
    getting really annoying.
    Stephen Dedalus, Dec 1, 2004
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  2. Stephen Dedalus

    Matt Guest

    I came here looking for an answer to a similar problem - when I start media
    player, with "shuffle" on (i.e. no playlist, just playing "All music" with
    shuffle), it always starts on the same song, forcing me to expend valuable
    effort clicking on the "next" button. And sometimes you always get the same
    thing next etc etc.. Admittedly given that there are people starving in the
    world this is a minor irritation, but just wondered if there was a tickbox
    somewhere i'd missed. Sounds like others are having a similar problem, and I
    can't see a solution mentioned anywhere here. I on media player V9 now, but
    have had the same problem in previous versions.
    Matt, Jul 18, 2005
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  3. Stephen Dedalus

    zachd [ms] Guest

    Shuffle is improved with every version. WMP10 has the best "shuffle". WMP9
    and earlier have marked issues with true shuffle.

    (speaking for myself and doing this in my free time)
    See for some helpful WMP info.
    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.
    Now Playing: "Just a Little Bit of You" by "The Jackson 5" in WMP10.
    zachd [ms], Jul 18, 2005
  4. Stephen Dedalus

    lazyzealot Guest

    I'm finally glad someone else has noticed this. It's becoming very obvious
    for me that shuffle isn't completly random. I have nearly 20GB of songs, and
    consistantly I hear the same song within the same hour... I shouldn't even
    hear the same song in the same WEEK!

    For me, it seems like the shuffle feature is weighted due to the amount
    songs an artist has. It seems that the ones that I have several CDs worth
    get played the most.

    I'm using the WMP 11 beta (for a couple months) and it's still doing the
    same thing. Can we fix this?
    lazyzealot, Aug 4, 2006
  5. Stephen Dedalus

    zachd [MSFT] Guest

    What's your repro here... ?
    Generally this should work.
    zachd [MSFT], Aug 9, 2006
  6. Stephen Dedalus

    avollme Guest

    The thing that bothers me most about it is not just hearing 1 song repeat,
    it's that frequently a block of 5 or more will repeat. Even when I hit next,
    I find that I just heard that song and the next one, and the next one.
    How hard can it be to have a decent, if not true random algorithm?
    avollme, Feb 21, 2007
  7. Stephen Dedalus

    Dale Guest

    I use the crypto quality random number generators in .Net to do my random
    numbers in my custom wrapper for WMP11. Even with that, there are times I
    get the same track twice in a row. And times that I get the same album for
    maybe 3 out of 10 tracks. It just happens. That's what truly random does
    for you.

    It sounds like you would prefer an exclusionary system where played tracks
    don't get played again period.

    I suggest looking into some professional DJ media players. They have highly
    customizable playlist generators that will guarantee that you won't get
    repeats by track, by band or whatever.

    Dale, Feb 23, 2007
  8. Stephen Dedalus

    avollme Guest

    I understand that a truly random system will repeat things, however, when
    you're playing all tracks, in this case upwards of 5000, and still hearing
    not just one, but almost daily repeats in the course of an hour...well, I
    simply can't believe that it's random. The odds against that are staggering.
    An exclusionary system would be ok, especially if you could check it on or
    off, but right now, I'd just like to have confidence in this system.
    avollme, Feb 23, 2007
  9. Stephen Dedalus

    Steve Swift Guest

    I understand that a truly random system will repeat things, however, when
    I find myself wishing for a random selection that allowed you some
    influence over the randomness. So I'd end up playing 5-star tracks more
    often than 4-star and so on, and tracks not played recently in
    preference to those played recently.

    I accept that I'll still get the same 1-star tune twice in a row
    occasionally, but I'll probably have won the lottery before that
    happens, so will I care?
    Steve Swift, Feb 23, 2007
  10. Stephen Dedalus

    Dale Guest

    It might not be as seldom as winning the lottery; you only have 5000 songs.

    I don't have a math degree and it has been a long time since I took
    statistics but let's play with it anyway. If, for instance you have 1000 of
    each from 5 stars to 1 star. You want to play each 5 star track 5 times for
    every 4 times that a 4 star track plays and every 3 times that a 3 star
    track plays and every 2 times a 2 star track plays and every 1 time a 1 star
    track plays - which would be a great way of prioritizing play - and may or
    may not be what WMP does for all I know. After all, shuffle does not
    necessarily mean random. But I digress because I don't really know what WMP
    does for shuffle at all.

    So, based on the above scenario, you would have:

    5 X 1000 chances to play a 5-star.
    4 X 1000 chances to play a 4-star.
    3 X 1000 chances to play a 3-star.
    2 X 1000 chances to play a 2-star.
    1 X 1000 chances to play a 1-star.

    That is a total of 1 in 15,000 odds. If you create a random number
    generator and test against those odds, you'd be surprised how many times
    numbers really can get duplicated.

    Dale, Feb 23, 2007
  11. Stephen Dedalus

    dickshaw Guest

    The "new and improved" is flawed here. I seem to get the exact same
    "shuffled" playlist every time. Media 10 allowed a reshuffle to freshen the
    list. This is like "Groundhog Day" deja vu.
    dickshaw, Apr 27, 2007
  12. Stephen Dedalus

    Steve Swift Guest

    The "new and improved" is flawed here. I seem to get the exact same
    If you add what you're listening to into the "Untitled Playlist" you can
    re-shuffle that.
    Steve Swift, Apr 27, 2007
  13. Stephen Dedalus

    Tim Guest


    WMP 12 needs to implement something known as a "Perfect Random" for Shuffle

    Essentially, it creates a bit map, with one bit corresponding to one item in
    a sequential playlist. Then you seed a random number generator with the
    current datetime variable to make it truly random.

    Now you limit the random number to the number of bits in the array (map).
    As each number comes up, you set the bit and play the correspondniig song.
    Keep picking random numbers until you hit on bits that have not been set.
    When all bits have been set (you need to track the number of bits), then you
    just clear all bits, seed the random again, and start setting bits.

    This results in a PERFECT RANDOM -- no item in a given playlist can repeat
    until ALL SONGS have been played at least once.

    Now add the 5-star weighting system to the bitmap scheme and voila - you now
    have the PERFECT PERECT RANDOM shuffle -- almost as good as iTunes' excellent
    shuffle :)).

    One other suggestion: Add a "Randomize" function to each Playlist as an
    option. That way, at least I play my Playlists sequentially after
    Randomizing them -- resulting, again, in a Perfect Random. Or add a checkbox
    for "Auto-Randomize" for each Playlist. With that, the Playlist would
    auto-randomize every time it was played, resulting in yet ANOTHER Perfect
    Random. Jeez - I ought to be a programmer (oh, I already am - dangit!).
    Tim, Jun 30, 2007
  14. Stephen Dedalus

    zachd [MSFT] Guest

    AutoPlaylists (WPLs) already have a Shuffle bit you can turn on. You can
    use Shuffle within any playlist, and everything's playlist-based, so that
    means everything.

    Yep, this is a known and understood concept. Consider the feedback passed
    on. =)
    zachd [MSFT], Jul 11, 2007
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