A lottery number is a 32-character string of hexadecimal numbers (0-9, then a-f). Hexadecimal numbers are used in programming because computers encode everything in binary, and the decimal numbering system requires too many bits to store all possible combinations. This enables computer programs to store multiple distinct numbers on a single bit, allowing for greater precision. The hexadecimal numbering system also allows for easy comparison of the odds of a winning ticket by comparing its first character against all other characters in the sequence, i.e., a lottery number that starts with 0 is 6.25% more likely to win than one that starts with F.
The hexadecimal system has another advantage when it comes to lottery numbers: The number space can be divided into smaller units, each with a certain probability of winning. The probability of choosing a winning lottery number is the sum of the probabilities of all possible combinations within that unit. This probability is known as the number of ways to choose a winning lottery number, and it can be calculated using binomial and multinomial probability theory. A former Multi-State Lottery Association security worker, convicted last year of fraud, told investigators in 2017 that he warned his employer that the software they used to draw lottery numbers contained an alarming flaw. The Register launched a eight-month investigation into the issue and found that duplicate drawings do occur, and that there are reasons to suspect that the system isn’t as random as it might seem.