# 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

everywhere.

“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

resources.”

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.