View Full Version : Can't seed the random generator

May 7th, 2007, 05:35 AM
I'm just getting into programming with C++. So far, everything has worked well, except for this particular issue.

I'm trying to seed the random generator with the system time by using the following command:

srand ( time(NULL) );

But for some reason when I compile the program (then run it from a terminal [it's text-based]) the following error message pops up:

Program has been terminated receiving signal 11 (Segmentation fault)

First of all, what does that mean? And second of all, how do I fix it?

May 7th, 2007, 07:19 AM
Well this code works perfectly

#include <stdlib.h>
#include <time.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)

So probably your error lies elsewhere. It could be usefull to provide us with the rest of your code, this will make it easier to pinpoint your error.

A segmentation fault is a signal that your process receives when the system detects that you program is accessing memory that was not allocated to it. Typically this happens with uninitialized pointers, or when overflowing buffers. The easiest way to get a segmentation fault is when you try to dereference a NULL pointer.

In order to trace your error do the following. Given the following code, which returns a segmentation fault:

#include <stdlib.h>
#include <time.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
int * nullpointer = NULL;
printf("%d\n", *nullpointer);

return 0;

(This gives a segmentation fault because you try to dereference a NULL pointer)

Compile it with debugging signals enabled (the -g switch)

e@lap:/tmp$ gcc -g -Wall test.c

Now run it through gdb:

e@lape:/tmp$ gdb a.out
GNU gdb 6.6-debian
Copyright (C) 2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
GDB is free software, covered by the GNU General Public License, and you are
welcome to change it and/or distribute copies of it under certain conditions.
Type "show copying" to see the conditions.
There is absolutely no warranty for GDB. Type "show warranty" for details.
This GDB was configured as "i486-linux-gnu"...
Using host libthread_db library "/lib/tls/i686/cmov/libthread_db.so.1".
(gdb) run
Starting program: /tmp/a.out

Program received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
0x08048413 in main () at test.c:9
9 printf("%d\n", *nullpointer);
(gdb) where
#0 0x08048413 in main () at test.c:9

This clearly illustrates the error occurs at line 9.

May 7th, 2007, 11:23 AM
In C/C++ I use:

#include <ctime>
#include <cstdlib>
srand((unsigned)(rand() + clock() + time(0)));

May 7th, 2007, 11:07 PM
Here's my program (it's far from complete). I seed the random generator in the function "GenerateWordToGuess()", and I tried to test it by assigning the variable "thing" to a random number.

//A text-based version of the classic word-guessing game
//Written by Bryan Verble on May 5, 2007

#include <iostream>
#include <string>
#include <strings.h>
#include <ctime>
#include <cstdlib>

using namespace std;

void Instructions() {

//Define the answer
string answer;
//Give question
cout << "Welcome to Hangman. Would you like instructions? ";
cin >> answer;

//Start the instruction loop
while (answer == "yes" || answer == "Yes" || answer == "YES") {

//Get answer
//cin >> answer;
//If answer is yes, give instructions
if (answer == "yes" || answer == "Yes" || answer == "YES") {
cout << "\n";
cout << "To play, all you have to do is enter a letter to guess.";
cout << "Please use lowercase letters only.";
cout << "If the answer is correct, it will be added to the display.";
cout << "If the answer is incorrect, you will have one less guess, ";
cout << "and the letter will be added to the incorrectly guessed";
cout << " display.";
cout << "\n \n Do you need these instructions repeated? ";

//Get answer again
cin >> answer;



string GenerateWordToGuess() {

//Seed the random generator
srand ( time(NULL) );
int thing;
thing = rand();
cout << thing;


int main() {

//Ask the user if they want instructions
//Pick the word to guess for


I hope this helps.

May 7th, 2007, 11:49 PM
Never mind. I just figured out what went wrong.

May 7th, 2007, 11:52 PM
Your function GenerateWordToGuess() is supposed to return a string, but it reaches the end of the function without returning anything. If you use the -Wall option to g++, the compiler will warn you about this. I don't know enough about g++ to know why this causes a seg. fault, but if you add something as simple as

return "";

to the end of the function, it should work.


Never mind. ...
Too late :)