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'randomly' distributing elements into buckets

ugeb asked
Last Modified: 2012-05-11

I have the task of placing users of a game into buckets based on their user ID.  The number of buckets is set for a given trial, but could vary from trial to trial.

For example, let's say I have 1000 users of a game, and I would like to place them randomly but evenly into 5 buckets, 1 through 5. However, whenever I compute the bucket for a given user, I always need to place them in the exact same bucket, so I need a deterministic way of 'randomly' placing a user in one of N buckets.  I would like each bucket to be representational of the whole data set.

Another follow on issue is that I have a certain % chance that they won't be placed in ANY bucket, but be left out of the experiment.  For example, maybe there's a 70% chance they will be placed in a bucket, and 30% chance they won't. If they ARE placed in a bucket, then I have to know which bucket.  It has to be repeatable for a given user.

Any suggestions on how I can approach this problem or on solutions already available?


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