RustRandom Number Generation

Introduction

Rust has a built in capability to provide random number generation through the rand crate. Once part of the Rust standard library, the functionality of the rand crate was separated to allow its development to stabilize separate to the rest of the Rust project. This topic will cover how to simply add the rand crate, then generate and output a random number in Rust.

Remarks

There is built-in support for a RNG associated with each thread stored in thread-local storage. This RNG can be accessed via thread_rng, or used implicitly via random. This RNG is normally randomly seeded from an operating-system source of randomness, e.g. /dev/urandom on Unix systems, and will automatically reseed itself from this source after generating 32 KiB of random data.

An application that requires an entropy source for cryptographic purposes must use OsRng, which reads randomness from the source that the operating system provides (e.g. /dev/urandom on Unixes or CryptGenRandom() on Windows). The other random number generators provided by this module are not suitable for such purposes.

Generating Two Random Numbers with Rand

Firstly, you'll need to add the crate into your Cargo.toml file as a dependency.

[dependencies]
rand = "0.3"

This will retrieve the rand crate from crates.io. Next, add this to your crate root.

extern crate rand;

As this example is going to provide a simple output through the terminal, we'll create a main function and print two randomly generated numbers to the console. The thread local random number generator will be cached in this example. When generating multiple values, this can often prove more efficient.

use rand::Rng;

fn main() {
    
    let mut rng = rand::thread_rng();
    
    if rng.gen() { // random bool
        println!("i32: {}, u32: {}", rng.gen::<i32>(), rng.gen::<u32>())
    }
}

When you run this example, you should see the following response in the console.

$ cargo run
     Running `target/debug/so`
i32: 1568599182, u32: 2222135793

Generating Characters with Rand

To generate characters, you can utilize the thread-local random number generator function, random.

fn main() {
    let tuple = rand::random::<(f64, char)>();
    println!("{:?}", tuple)
}

For occasional or singular requests, such as the one above, this is a reasonable efficient method. However, if you intend to generate more than a handful of numbers, you will find caching the generator will be more efficient.

You should expect to the see the following output in this case.

$ cargo run
     Running `target/debug/so`
(0.906881, '\u{9edc}')