I found a nice tip for selecting random rows from within a SQL Server 2000 database. Well actually, pseudorandom. Since my undergraduate thesis was on the topic of pseudorandom number generation, I might as well be precise. For some reason, my non-geek friends find it awfully funny when I mention pseudorandom numbers.
I digress. In order to select 10 records from some table at random, try this:
SELECT TOP 10 * FROM someTable ORDER By NEWID()
Now for my homework, I should find out just how random this is. There's a whole slew of statistical tests I can run to gauge the randomness of pseudorandom number generator such as the Chi-square Test, Serial Correlation Coefficient, and 2-D Random Walk Test to name a few.
IMPORTANT: Please note that this will NOT work in SQL 7 on NT4 because the NEWID() function there generates sequential results (Bad SQL! Bad!).
UPDATE: My friend Erik referred me to this article that has an overview of several methods for random sampling. Thanks e.