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If you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys...

16th October 2011 13:31:59

Monkey on a Typewriter


At approximately 9am GMT (2am PST) on the 6th October 2011, an infinite number of virtual monkeys successfully re-created the last in a collection of Shakespeare's works, The Taming of the Shrew


Rather than physically embodying the prophecy of having real monkeys pawing at typewriters, Anderson has mimicked the concept with 'virtual, computerised monkeys that output random gibberish'.  Writing his own 'infinite monkey' software that compares the 'gibberish to every work of Shakespeare to see if it actual matches', Anderson acknowledged that he 'understand[s] the definition of infinite and infinite monkey theorem, and realise[s] that this project does not have infinite resources' and is merely a 'fun side project'. 


With a cost of $19.20 (£12.40) every day the software is running from his home PC, and using Amazon's cloud computers.


Spacing and punctuation have been removed from the text string, which consists of nine-letter random generations, to try and cut costs and speed up success. Anderson is aware that 'there are 5.5 trillion different permutations of nine characters. Once a particular nine-character string is found to match Shakespeare's text, it's marked off as "discovered" by the monkeys'.


Whether you think this is a success or not is debatable, the works not being presented in any cogent form, merely a random selection of nine-letter matches ticked off in no particular order.


Is this really 'one small step for a monkey, one giant leap for virtual primates everywhere'? Or is it just one virtual waste of time?



'Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears:

I come to recreate Shakespeare, not to praise him'

- Monkey, Julius Caesar


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