How to select winning lottery numbers

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Ian Nicholson/PA

There are many strategies around about how to pick winning lottery numbers yet when the results come in it seems that an entirely random selection wins each time.

But there are different degrees of randomness, according to a leading mathematician, who claims that picking consecutive random numbers increases your chance of winning the jackpot.

Professor Marcus du Sautoy, who is Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and an Oxford professor of mathematics, discusses a mathematical phenomena known as 'clumping' in an report about coincidence in the Daily Mail today.

"People assume "random" means "evenly-spaced," he said. "But very often random events will be clumped together."

The professor adds: "You might think this is weird because it forms a pattern, but you don't notice when 31 and 37 come up together because they're not consecutive."

As part of his research into these patterns - and coincidences - Professor Du Sautoy studied results from the Lottery for his book The Number Mysteries and found it is very common for consecutive numbers to come up.

"My advice is to pick consecutive numbers, like 31, 32, 33. Not many people do, but it is just as likely as any other combination. In fact, if you do win the jackpot with consecutive numbers, you probably won't have to share it with as many other winners."

Interestingly, the logic behind this was used by Apple to redesign its iTunes 'shuffle' software, when some customers complained their iPod played some tracks more often than others. So Apple made the randomiser software "less random", arranging that after the device had played a track once it wouldn't play it again.

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