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From Ancient Greek στοχαστικός (stokhastikós), from στοχάζομαι (stokházomai, aim at a target, guess), from στόχος (stókhos, an aim, a guess).



stochastic (comparative more stochastic, superlative most stochastic)

  1. Random, randomly determined.
    Synonyms: aleatory, random
    • 1970, J. G. Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition:
      In the evening, while she bathed, waiting for him to enter the bathroom as she powdered her body, he crouched over the blueprints spread between the sofas in the lounge, calculating a stochastic analysis of the Pentagon car park.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, “Against the Day”, in Against the Day, New York, N.Y.: Penguin Press, →ISBN, page 760:
      Self-slaughter, as Hamlet always says, was certainly in the cards, unless one had been out here long enough to have contemplated the will of God, observed the stochastic whimsy of the day, learned when and when not to whisper “Insh'allah,” and understood how, as one perhaps might never have in England, to await, to depend upon, the ineluctable departure of what was most dear.
    • 2021 March 3, Emily M. Bender, Timnit Gebru, Angelina McMillan-Major, Shmargaret Shmitchell, “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big? 🦜”, in Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, ACM, →DOI, →ISBN, pages 610–623:
      [] an LM is a system for haphazardly stitching together sequences of linguistic forms it has observed in its vast training data, according to probabilistic information about how they combine, but without any reference to meaning: a stochastic parrot.

Usage notes[edit]

The term refers to the process of determination being random, regardless of any particular outcome. Flipping a fair coin that lands heads 100 times in a row (in practice, impossibly unlikely, or proof that the coin is not a fair one) could still be contemplated as the outcome of a stochastic procedure.

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