“A Few Million Monkeys Randomly Recreate Shakespeare”

In 1996, Robert Wilensky famously said: “We’ve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.”

Wikipedia explains: “The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type or create a particular chosen text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. In this context, ‘almost surely’ is a mathematical term with a precise meaning, and the ‘monkey’ is not an actual monkey, but a metaphor for an abstract device that produces a random sequence of letters ad infinitum. The probability of a monkey exactly typing a complete work such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet is so tiny that the chance of it occurring during a period of time of the order of the age of the universe is extremely low, but not zero.”

Undaunted, Jesse Anderson set up in late August a number of virtual monkeys, “small computer programs,” BBC News reports, “uploaded to Amazon servers. These coded apes regularly pump out random sequences of text. Each sequence is nine characters long and each is checked to see if that string of characters appears anywhere in the works of Shakespeare. If not, it is discarded. If it does match then progress has been made towards re-creating the works of the Bard. To get a sense of the scale of the project, there are about 5.5 trillion different combinations of any nine characters from the English alphabet.”

Anderson announced a few days ago that “the monkeys successfully randomly recreated A Lover’s Complaint and The Tempest… This is the first time a work of Shakespeare has actually been randomly reproduced.  Furthermore, this is the largest work ever randomly reproduced. It is one small step for a monkey, one giant leap for virtual primates everywhere.”

He adds: “I understand the definition of infinite and infinite monkey theorem and I realize that this project does not have infinite resources.  This project was funded and written by myself and was not supported by any grant money or federal money.  No monkeys were harmed during the making of this code.  This project is my attempt to find a creative way to attain an answer without infinite resources.  It is a fun side project.”

In 2003, according to BBC News, “Paignton Zoo carried out a practical test by putting a keyboard connected to a PC into the cage of six crested macaques. After a month the monkeys had produced five pages of the letter ‘S’ and had broken the keyboard.”

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About GilPress

I launched the Big Data conversation; writing, research, marketing services; http://whatsthebigdata.com/ & https://infostory.com/
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