What is a seed? How Computers Generate Random Numbers

Many of the artworks generated here at smooja require the use of random numbers. Randomness to pick colours, to place shapes and so on. The more randomness we use to generate our art, the more of a suprise we can get when the artwork is generated. The seed used to generate your artwork is printed on the artwork itself as part of the artwork. But what actually is a seed?
One of the problems with computers is that they have a hard time generating random numbers. In fact its impossible for a computer to generate a truly random number. Therefore computers tend to use an algorithm to generate the numbers. This algorithm does a series of calculations on a number already present on the computer - this is called the seed. The seed is the number used to generate this list of psuedo-random numbers. Usually this seed is taken from the length of time that the computer has been powered on or some other arbitrary amount. However, you can actually force the computer to use a specified seed.
The idea behind a seed is that it is the very first number that you feed into the algorithm. By feeding in the same seed number into the algorithm you get the same sequence of pseudo-random numbers back out which you can then use to recreate your artwork. In other words - using the same seed will get you the same picture.