How do I generate random integers within a specific range in Java?

2021-6-3 anglehua

How do I generate a random int value in a specific range?

I have tried the following, but those do not work:

Attempt 1:

randomNum = minimum + (int)(Math.random() * maximum);

Bug: randomNum can be bigger than maximum.

Attempt 2:

Random rn = new Random();
int n = maximum - minimum + 1;
int i = rn.nextInt() % n;
randomNum =  minimum + i;

Bug: randomNum can be smaller than minimum.


In Java 1.7 or later, the standard way to do this is as follows:

import java.util.concurrent.ThreadLocalRandom;

// nextInt is normally exclusive of the top value,
// so add 1 to make it inclusive
int randomNum = ThreadLocalRandom.current().nextInt(min, max + 1);

See the relevant JavaDoc. This approach has the advantage of not needing to explicitly initialize a java.util.Random instance, which can be a source of confusion and error if used inappropriately.

However, conversely there is no way to explicitly set the seed so it can be difficult to reproduce results in situations where that is useful such as testing or saving game states or similar. In those situations, the pre-Java 1.7 technique shown below can be used.

Before Java 1.7, the standard way to do this is as follows:

import java.util.Random;

/**
 * Returns a pseudo-random number between min and max, inclusive.
 * The difference between min and max can be at most
 * <code>Integer.MAX_VALUE - 1</code>.
 *
 * @param min Minimum value
 * @param max Maximum value.  Must be greater than min.
 * @return Integer between min and max, inclusive.
 * @see java.util.Random#nextInt(int)
 */
public static int randInt(int min, int max) {

    // NOTE: This will (intentionally) not run as written so that folks
    // copy-pasting have to think about how to initialize their
    // Random instance.  Initialization of the Random instance is outside
    // the main scope of the question, but some decent options are to have
    // a field that is initialized once and then re-used as needed or to
    // use ThreadLocalRandom (if using at least Java 1.7).
    // 
    // In particular, do NOT do 'Random rand = new Random()' here or you
    // will get not very good / not very random results.
    Random rand;

    // nextInt is normally exclusive of the top value,
    // so add 1 to make it inclusive
    int randomNum = rand.nextInt((max - min) + 1) + min;

    return randomNum;
}

See the relevant JavaDoc. In practice, the java.util.Random class is often preferable to java.lang.Math.random().

In particular, there is no need to reinvent the random integer generation wheel when there is a straightforward API within the standard library to accomplish the task.



Note that this approach is more biased and less efficient than a nextInt approach, https://stackoverflow.com/a/738651/360211

One standard pattern for accomplishing this is:

Min + (int)(Math.random() * ((Max - Min) + 1))

The Java Math library function Math.random() generates a double value in the range [0,1). Notice this range does not include the 1.

In order to get a specific range of values first, you need to multiply by the magnitude of the range of values you want covered.

Math.random() * ( Max - Min )

This returns a value in the range [0,Max-Min), where 'Max-Min' is not included.

For example, if you want [5,10), you need to cover five integer values so you use

Math.random() * 5

This would return a value in the range [0,5), where 5 is not included.

Now you need to shift this range up to the range that you are targeting. You do this by adding the Min value.

Min + (Math.random() * (Max - Min))

You now will get a value in the range [Min,Max). Following our example, that means [5,10):

5 + (Math.random() * (10 - 5))

But, this still doesn't include Max and you are getting a double value. In order to get the Max value included, you need to add 1 to your range parameter (Max - Min) and then truncate the decimal part by casting to an int. This is accomplished via:

Min + (int)(Math.random() * ((Max - Min) + 1))

And there you have it. A random integer value in the range [Min,Max], or per the example [5,10]:

5 + (int)(Math.random() * ((10 - 5) + 1))


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