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Roll (?) is a monadic scalar function which returns random or pseudo-random numbers. The name Roll comes from the analogy of rolling dice. Each scalar in the argument must be a positive integer, n, and Roll chooses one of the first n indices. Some dialects allow n to be zero, in which case Roll chooses a floating-point number between 0 and 1. Roll shares its glyph with the other random-result function, Deal.


      ? 4 ⍴ 6                   ⍝ Roll four six-sided dice
1 4 1 1
      ? 3 2 1 0                 ⍝ The result for 1 is always 1
2 2 1 0.9637543707
      {⍵[?8⍴≢⍵]} 'Hello'        ⍝ Choose 8 random letters


Each scalar in the argument to Roll must be a positive integer.

The result of Roll on each number n is either

  • One of the elements of ⍳n chosen uniformly at random; or
  • A real number between 0 and 1 chosen uniformly at random, if n is 0 and the dialect has this extension.

Because Iota depends on index origin, Roll depends on index origin unless every number in the argument is 0.

The choices made by Roll do not have to be truly random: they may be pseudorandom (generated by a deterministic but difficult to predict algorithm) or taken from the operating system. They way random numbers are generated is controlled by the random link ⎕RL. Traditionally, APL uses the Lehmer random number generator, but Dyalog APL defaults to the allow choosing a different random number generator and defaults to the Mersenne Twister.

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APL built-ins [edit]
Primitives (Timeline) Functions
Monadic ConjugateNegateSignumReciprocalMagnitudeExponentialNatural LogarithmFloorCeilingFactorialNotPi TimesRollTypeImaginarySquare Root
Dyadic AddSubtractTimesDivideResiduePowerLogarithmMinimumMaximumBinomialComparison functionsBoolean functions (And, Or, Nand, Nor) ∙ GCDLCMCircularComplexRoot
Structural ShapeReshapeTallyDepthRavelEnlistTableCatenateReverseRotateTransposeRazeMixSplitEncloseNestCut (K)PairLinkPartitioned EnclosePartition
Selection FirstPickTakeDropUniqueIdentityStopSelectReplicateExpandSet functions (IntersectionUnionWithout) ∙ Bracket indexingIndexCartesian ProductSort
Selector Index generatorGradeIndex OfInterval IndexIndicesDealPrefix and suffix vectors
Computational MatchNot MatchMembershipFindNub SieveEncodeDecodeMatrix InverseMatrix DivideFormatExecuteMaterialiseRange
Operators Monadic EachCommuteConstantReplicateExpandReduceWindowed ReduceScanOuter ProductKeyI-BeamSpawnFunction axis
Dyadic BindCompositions (Compose, Reverse Compose, Beside, Withe, Atop, Over) ∙ Inner ProductDeterminantPowerAtUnderRankDepthVariantStencilCutDirect definition (operator)
Quad names Index originComparison toleranceMigration levelAtomic vector