Hugh Pickens writes writes: Lottery Post has an interesting story about Mohan Srivastava, an MIT educated statistician who became intrigued by a particular type of scratch-off lottery ticket called an extended-play game — sometimes referred to as a baited hook — that has a tic-tac-toe grid of visible numbers that looks like a miniature spreadsheet. Srivastava discovered a defect in the game: The visible numbers turned out to reveal essential information about the digits hidden under the latex coating. Nothing needed to be scratched off — the ticket could be cracked if you figured out the secret code. Srivastava's fundamental insight was that the apparent randomness of the scratch ticket was just a facade, a mathematical lie because the software that generates the tickets has to precisely control the number of winners while still appearing random. "It wasn't that hard," says Srivastava. "I do the same kind of math all day long."