Deterministic vs. Stochastic

When Jan Pernecky from Subdigital described the results from his new plugin "Monoceros" for Grasshopper, he explained them as "deterministic but new and surprising". This got me thinking about the sometimes blurred line between deterministic, and stochastic or random, processes and results.

I've often used a tone generator to input a pure sine wave into my algorithm, and although the results can have beautiful complexity, they are 100% repeatable, 100% deterministic. Yet when using "sound", whether natural and environmental, or man-made, the vast diversity and total unrepeatability of outcomes, regardless of how much care is taken in documenting and cataloging parameters, make me think that there is indeed a stochastic element. Yet the algorithm is the same in both cases.

Of course the answer to this paradox lies simply in the extraordinary complexity, or richness, of sound. So the slightest deviation in timing or processor speed, or any of the other performance-related influencers, changes the destiny of the piece forever.





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