Visual Basic for Applications/A PRNG for VBA
Summary[edit  edit source]
 A pseudorandom number generator (PRNG), if run for long enough, generates a characteristic sequence that is based on its algorithm. This sequence repeats forever and is invariant. The Rnd() function of VBA, if placed in a loop without a parameter, and without making use of Randomize() at all, will generate 16,777,216 values between zero and unity, then start again at the beginning, making a repeating sequence with a cycle length of 16,777,216. The only option for the user is to choose the starting point within that one sequence. This is done by choosing a start value or seed. In the case of Rnd(), the start value is chosen in two ways: by default, using the system timer, or with a userset number. Again, the start parameters that are set by the user do not make new sequences, they just decide which bit of that one long sequence will be used. Linear Congruential Generators (LCG), the type used by Microsoft's Rnd() function are described in detail at Linear congruential generator.
 The maximum cycle length for a single stage LCG is equal to its modulus. For combined generators, the maximum cycle length is equal to the least common multiple of the cycle lengths of the individual generators. A welldesigned generator will have the maximum cycle length and consist only of unique values throughout its sequence, but not all generators are welldesigned. The above link describes the design values required to make an LCG with a maximum cycle length over all of its starting values.
 The code module below contains the WichmannHill (1982) CLCG (combined LCG) in VBA and is fully functional. It is called RndX() and is used in conjunction with its own RandomizeX(). It has a much longer repeat cycle than Microsoft's Rnd(). A summary of the most useful settings for RndX() is given, with additional details for those who need them in a drop box. Sadly, this author lacks the tools and knowledge for any serious testing of number generators, so the offerings below are likely to be of interest only to beginners.
 Longcycle generators are awkward to study in Excel. The cycles of both Microsoft's Rnd() and the user function RndX() are much too long to write a complete cycle to a single worksheet column. The solution is either to list only parts of long streams or to make a number generator with a cycle short enough for a full listing. Listing in a single column this way allows confirmation of the repeat cycle length, then after trimming the rows to a complete set, counting rows after the removal of duplicates will confirm for the skeptical that all of the values are unique. A module is included with procedures to list one section of the WichmannHill implementation, that fits into about 30269 rows or so, and another with a very simple generator for further testing, that fits into just 43.
Microsoft's Rnd() algorithm[edit  edit source]
Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), at present uses a linear congruential generator (LCG) for pseudorandom number generation in the Rnd() function. Attempts to implement the Microsoft algorithm in VBA failed owing to overflow. The following is its basic algorithm.
x1 = ( x0 * a + c ) MOD m and; Rnd() = x1/m where: Rnd() = returned value m = modulus = (2^24) x1 = new value x0 = previous value (initial value 327680) a = 1140671485 c = 12820163 Repeat length = m = (2^24) = 16,777,216
Similarities will be noticed between Microsoft's Rnd() and the one below, described by WichmannHill (1982), in which a sum of three LCG expressions is used in the production of each output number. The combination of expressions gives RndX(), with the coded values, its much improved cycle length of:
Cycle length = least_common_multiple(30268, 30306, 30322) = 30268 * 30306 * 30322 / 4 = 6,953,607,871,644
VBA Code  WichmannHill (1982)[edit  edit source]
A reminder about module level variables may be in order. Module level variables hold their values between procedure runs. In fact they will retain values until the VBA is no longer used at all or the code is edited. The code has been laced with resets for these variables, to ensure starting with intended values, as opposed to old stored ones from the previous top procedure runs.
On a cautionary note; although this algorithm has improved properties over the resident Rnd(), the applications on which these generators are run are not particularly secure. Consider also that the output of all LCG coding is entirely predictable if the starting value is ever known. In fact, if any part of such a stream is known, then it is possible for those who intend harm to find the entire stream by comparing it with stored values. These facts when taken together limit the use of such a VBA implementation to study or noncritical applications.
That said, these are likely to be the most useful parameter configurations: In each case RandomizeX() should only be called once, before and outside any generator loop that contains RndX(). This advice also applies to the Microsoft function Rnd() and its companion Randomize().
 To produce outputs with an unpredictable start point, and a different start point each time it is run:
 Call RandomizeX without any parameter before calling RndX, also without any parameter. This uses the system timer.
 To produce outputs from a large set of start points, repeatable, and chosen by a user parameter:
 Call RandomizeX with any numeric parameter before calling RndX without any parameter. Changed RandomizeX parameter values result in different start points of the standard algorithm stream.
 To produce an unpredictable, single value, different each time it is run:
 Call RandomizeX without any parameter before calling RndX with a parameter of zero. This uses the system timer.
 To produce a repeatable single value, related to, and chosen by a user parameter:
 Call RandomizeX with any numeric parameter before calling RndX with a parameter of zero. Changed RandomizeX parameter values result in different values that are peculiar to each parameter.
 Refer to the drop box below for a complete tabulation of the parameter settings and their outcomes.

The code in this section should be saved as a separate standard module in Excel.
Option Explicit
Dim nSamples As Long
Dim nX As Long, nY As Long, nZ As Long
Sub TestRndX()
'run this to obtain RndX() samples
'Wichmann, Brian; Hill, David (1982), Algorithm AS183:
'An Efficient and Portable PseudoRandom Number Generator,
'Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series C
Dim n As Long
'reset module variables
nX = 0: nY = 0: nZ = 0
RandomizeX
For n = 1 To 10
Debug.Print RndX()
MsgBox RndX()
Next n
'reset module variables
nX = 0: nY = 0: nZ = 0
End Sub
Sub TestScatterChartOfPRNG()
'run this to make a point scatter chart
'using samples from RndX
Dim vA As Variant, n As Long
Dim nS As Long, nR As Double
'remove any other charts
'DeleteAllCharts
'reset module variables
nX = 0: nY = 0: nZ = 0
'set number of samples here
nSamples = 1000
ReDim vA(1 To 2, 1 To nSamples) 'dimension array
'load array with PRNG samples
RandomizeX
For n = 1 To nSamples
nR = RndX()
vA(1, n) = n 'x axis data  sample numbers
vA(2, n) = nR 'y axis data  prng values
Next n
'make scatter point chart from array
ChartScatterPoints vA, 1, 2, nSamples & " Samples of RndX()", _
"Sample Numbers", "PRNG Values [0,1]"
'reset module work variables
nX = 0: nY = 0: nZ = 0
End Sub
Sub RandomizeX(Optional ByVal nSeed As Variant)
'sets variables for PRNG procedure RndX()
Const MaxLong As Double = 2 ^ 31  1
Dim nS As Long
Dim nN As Double
'make multiplier
If IsMissing(nSeed) Then
nS = Timer * 60
Else
nN = Abs(Int(Val(nSeed)))
If nN > MaxLong Then 'no overflow
nN = nN  Int(nN / MaxLong) * MaxLong
End If
nS = nN
End If
'update variables
nX = (nS Mod 30269)
nY = (nS Mod 30307)
nZ = (nS Mod 30323)
'avoid zero state
If nX = 0 Then nX = 171
If nY = 0 Then nY = 172
If nZ = 0 Then nZ = 170
End Sub
Function RndX(Optional ByVal nSeed As Long = 1) As Double
'PRNG  gets pseudo random number  use with RandomizeX
'WichmannHill algorithm of 1982
Dim nResult As Double
'initialize variables
If nX = 0 Then
nX = 171
nY = 172
nZ = 170
End If
'first update variables
If nSeed <> 0 Then
If nSeed < 0 Then RandomizeX (nSeed)
nX = (171 * nX) Mod 30269
nY = (172 * nY) Mod 30307
nZ = (170 * nZ) Mod 30323
End If
'use variables to calculate output
nResult = nX / 30269# + nY / 30307# + nZ / 30323#
RndX = nResult  Int(nResult)
End Function
Sub ChartScatterPoints(ByVal vA As Variant, RowX As Long, RowY As Long, _
Optional sTitle As String = "", Optional sXAxis As String, _
Optional sYAxis As String)
'array input must contain two data rows for x and y data
'parameters for user title, x axis and y axis labels
'makes a simple point scatter chart
Dim LBC As Long, UBC As Long, LBR As Long, UBR As Long, n As Long, bOptLim As Boolean
Dim X As Variant, Y As Variant, sX As String, sY As String, sT As String, oC As Chart
LBR = LBound(vA, 1): UBR = UBound(vA, 1)
LBC = LBound(vA, 2): UBC = UBound(vA, 2)
ReDim X(LBC To UBC)
ReDim Y(LBC To UBC)
'labels for specific charts
If sTitle = "" Then sT = "Title Goes Here" Else sT = sTitle
If sXAxis = "" Then sX = "X Axis Label Goes Here" Else sX = sXAxis
If sYAxis = "" Then sY = "Y Axis Label Goes Here" Else sY = sYAxis
If RowX < LBR Or RowX > UBR Or RowY < LBC Or RowY > UBC Then
MsgBox "Parameter data rows out of range in ChartColumns  closing"
Exit Sub
End If
'transfer data to chart arrays
For n = LBC To UBC
X(n) = vA(RowX, n) 'x axis data
Y(n) = vA(RowY, n) 'y axis data
Next n
'make chart
Charts.Add
'set chart type
ActiveChart.ChartType = xlXYScatter 'point scatter chart
'remove unwanted series
With ActiveChart
Do Until .SeriesCollection.Count = 0
.SeriesCollection(1).Delete
Loop
End With
'assign the data and labels to a series
With ActiveChart.SeriesCollection
If .Count = 0 Then .NewSeries
If Val(Application.Version) >= 12 Then
.Item(1).Values = Y
.Item(1).XValues = X
Else
.Item(1).Select
Names.Add "_", X
ExecuteExcel4Macro "series.x(!_)"
Names.Add "_", Y
ExecuteExcel4Macro "series.y(,!_)"
Names("_").Delete
End If
End With
'apply title string, x and y axis strings, and delete legend
With ActiveChart
.HasTitle = True
.ChartTitle.Text = sT
.SetElement (msoElementPrimaryCategoryAxisTitleAdjacentToAxis) 'X
.Axes(xlCategory).AxisTitle.Text = sX
.SetElement (msoElementPrimaryValueAxisTitleRotated) 'Y
.Axes(xlValue).AxisTitle.Text = sY
.Legend.Delete
End With
'trim axes to suit
With ActiveChart
'X Axis
.Axes(xlCategory).Select
.Axes(xlCategory).MinimumScale = 0
.Axes(xlCategory).MaximumScale = nSamples
.Axes(xlCategory).MajorUnit = 500
.Axes(xlCategory).MinorUnit = 100
Selection.TickLabelPosition = xlLow
'Y Axis
.Axes(xlValue).Select
.Axes(xlValue).MinimumScale = 0.2
.Axes(xlValue).MaximumScale = 1.2
.Axes(xlValue).MajorUnit = 0.1
.Axes(xlValue).MinorUnit = 0.05
End With
ActiveChart.ChartArea.Select
Set oC = Nothing
End Sub
Sub DeleteAllCharts5()
'run this to delete all ThisWorkbook charts
Dim oC
Application.DisplayAlerts = False
For Each oC In ThisWorkbook.Charts
oC.Delete
Next oC
Application.DisplayAlerts = True
End Sub
Simpler Tests of PRNGs[edit  edit source]
The code module below contains a stripped down version of the WichmannHill (1982) algorithm, in fact using only the first of its three calculated sections. It will make several complete streams of values on Sheet1 of the workbook in which it is run, using different start values. Notice that the first values are all repeated at row 30269, as will the whole stream if extended. After producing the list, use the spreadsheet's functions for column sorting and the removal of duplicates to see that each column contains the appropriate number of unique entries. An even simpler generator with a repeat cycle of just 43 is also included that might make study more manageable, and the cycle of Microsoft's Rnd() can be seen to repeat at 16777216 (+1) by running TestMSRnd.
The code in this section should be saved as a separate standard module in Excel.
Option Explicit
Private ix2 As Long
Sub TestWHRnd30269()
'makes five columns for complete output streams
'each with a different start point
'runs a simplified LCNG with mod 30269
Dim sht As Worksheet, nS As Double, nSamp As Long
Dim c As Long, r As Long, nSeed As Long
'set seed value for Rnd2()
nSeed = 327680 'WH initial seed
'set number of random samples to make
nSamp = 30275 '30269 plus say, 6
'set initial value of carry variable
ix2 = nSeed
Set sht = ThisWorkbook.Worksheets("Sheet1")
'clear the worksheet
sht.Cells.Cells.ClearContents
'load sheet with set of samples
For c = 1 To 5 'number of runs
ix2 = nSeed + c 'change start value
For r = 1 To nSamp 'number of samples
nS = WHRnd30269() 'get a sample
sht.Cells(r, c) = nS 'write to sheet
Next r
Next c
sht.Cells(1, 1).Select
End Sub
Function WHRnd30269() As Double
'first part of WichmannHill tripple.
'When started with seed ix2 = 171,
'full sequence repeats from n = 30269
'without any repeated values before.
Dim r As Double
'ix2 cannot be 0.
If ix2 = 0 Then
ix2 = 171
End If
'calculate Xn+1 from Xn
ix2 = (171 * ix2) Mod 30269
'make an output value
r = ix2 / 30269#
WHRnd30269 = r  Int(r)
End Function
Sub TestSimpleRnd43()
'makes five columns for complete output streams
'each with a different start point
'runs a very simple LCNG with mod 43
Dim sht As Worksheet, nS As Double, nSamp As Long
Dim c As Long, r As Long, nSeed As Long
'set seed value for Rnd2()
nSeed = 17 'initial seed
'set number of random samples to make
nSamp = 45 '43 plus say, 2
'set initial value of carry variable
ix2 = nSeed
Set sht = ThisWorkbook.Worksheets("Sheet1")
'clear the worksheet
sht.Cells.Cells.ClearContents
'load sheet with set of samples
For c = 1 To 5 'number of runs
ix2 = nSeed + c 'change start value
For r = 1 To nSamp 'number of samples
nS = SimpleRnd43() 'get a sample
sht.Cells(r, c) = nS 'write to sheet
Next r
Next c
sht.Cells(1, 1).Select
End Sub
Function SimpleRnd43() As Double
'simple Lehmer style LCNG to show repeat streams
'produces one sequence of 42 unique values  then repeats entire sequence
'start value decides only where the predictable sequence begins
Dim r As Double
'Note; Makes 42 unique values before sequence repeats
'Modulus = 43: Multiplier = 5: Initial Seed = 17
'43 is prime
'5 is primitive root mod 43
'17 is coprime to 43
'ix2 cannot be 0.
If ix2 = 0 Then
ix2 = 17
End If
'calculate a new carry variable
ix2 = (5 * ix2) Mod 43
'make an output value
r = ix2 / 43#
SimpleRnd43 = r  Int(r)
End Function
Sub TestMSRnd()
'makes two sets of single data using MS Rnd
'the first 10 samples of Rnd() values
'followed by values around sample 16777216
'confirms sequence probably restarts at M+1 = 16777217
Dim sht As Worksheet, nS As Double
Dim c As Long, r As Long, nMod As Long
'note modulus
nMod = 16777216
Set sht = ThisWorkbook.Worksheets("Sheet1")
'clear the worksheet
sht.Cells.Cells.ClearContents
'load sheet with set of samples
For r = 1 To nMod + 20 'number of samples
nS = Rnd() 'get a sample
Select Case r
Case 1 To 10
sht.Cells(r, 1) = r
sht.Cells(r, 2) = nS
Case (nMod  4) To (nMod + 5)
sht.Cells(r  16777211 + 10, 1) = r
sht.Cells(r  16777211 + 10, 2) = nS
End Select
Next r
sht.Cells(1, 1).Select
End Sub
References[edit  edit source]
 Wichmann, Brian; Hill, David (1982), Algorithm AS183: An Efficient and Portable PseudoRandom Number Generator, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series C
See Also[edit  edit source]
 WichmannHill CLCG: A Wikipedia article on the specific combined linear congruential generator in question.
 Linear congruential generator: A good Wikipedia description of the conditions for a full cycle.
External Links[edit  edit source]
 How Visual Basic Generates PseudoRandom Numbers for the RND Function: Microsoft kb231847 knowledge base item