Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is it really impossible to calculate in advance the result of throwing dice? After all, the physics of dice throwing is in the world of classical mechanics, rather than quantum mechanics.

share|cite|improve this question
Assuming the universe is governed by classical physics, then in theory we can calculate the result of throwing dice if we exactly know all the input variables (i.e. all the forces acting on the dice, the masses of the dice, etc.). However, from a pragmatic point of view this is (nearly) impossible. (Also, at the best of our knowledge, our universe is not classical.) – Hunter Jun 6 '14 at 17:48
@ Hunter - It is so modest to post this as a comment. The first sentence deserves to be an answer IMO. Succinct answer. – The Dark Side Jun 6 '14 at 17:52
Note that the reason casinos insist that dice must bounce off the back wall is precisely to ensure that there is enough chaos in the system to defeat attempts to influence the result. – keshlam Jun 7 '14 at 5:49

This question was studied fairly recently by a team at Edinburgh University. Their paper is available here, though I'm not sure if you can get it without having to hand over some cash.

The bottom line is that in principle the trajectory of a die can be calculated, but it is a chaotic system and that means tiny inaccuracies in the measured initial conditions lead to large changes in the final state. In practice it would be impossible to measure the initial translational and rotational velocities accurately enough to make useful predictions.

share|cite|improve this answer
Paper.pdf – this Jun 7 '14 at 0:27
What if you took a snapshot while in the air, and knew exactly the position, orientation, speed and inertial properties. Is it deterministic then, or is the contact with friction chaotic too? – ja72 Sep 18 '14 at 12:38

Classical physics is developed based on this idea that understanding of a phenomenon will help in predicting the future and the past of a system. It actually works on the prejudice that quantities which are measurable can be measured with utmost accuracy by developing better methodology for experiments.
So, the based on classical physics i.e.ignoring the question "whether physical quantities can be measured accurately?." All the parameters have been measured accurately. Then, we can surely predict the result of throwing dice.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.