Monkeys at typewriters ‘close to reproducing Shakespeare’
The monkeys, which started typing on August 21, have already completed more
than five trillion of the 5.5 trillion possible nine-letter combinations,
but have so far only finished one whole work.
But the experiment is an imperfect reproduction of the infinite monkey theorem
because it saves correct sections of text while discarding future wrong
guesses, experts said.
Dr Ian Steward, emeritus professor of mathematics at Warwick University, said
that for the monkeys to type up the complete works in the correct order
without mistakes would take much longer than the age of the universe.
He told the BBC: “Along the way there would be untold numbers of attempts
with one character wrong; even more with two wrong, and so on.
“Almost all other books, being shorter, would appear (countless times)
before Shakespeare did.”
Writing on his blog,
Mr Anderson said: “This is the largest work ever randomly reproduced.
It is one small step for a monkey, one giant leap for virtual primates
“I understand the definition of infinite and infinite monkey theorem and
I realise that this project does not have infinite resources.
“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
In 2003 the Arts Council for England paid £2,000 for a real-life test of the
theorem involving six Sulawesi crested macaques, but the trial was abandoned
after a month.
The monkeys produced five pages of text, mainly composed of the letter S, but
failed to type anything close to a word of English, broke the computer and
used the keyboard as a lavatory.