London: Millions of
virtual monkeys punching random keys on simulated typewriters have
very nearly reproduced the work of legendary poet and playwright
The virtual monkeys, created by an American programmer, have
already typed up the whole of the poem "A Lover's Complaint" and
are 99.99 percent of the way through the bard's complete works.
The experiment seeks to validate the theory that an infinite
number of monkeys sitting at an infinite number of typewriters
would reproduce the works of Shakespeare by chance.
Jesse Anderson, the project programmer, said he was inspired by an
episode of "The Simpsons" which spoofs the famous problem, the
Anderson set up millions of small computer programmes, or virtual
monkeys, using Amazon's SC2 cloud computing system, and programmed
them to churn out random sequences of nine characters.
If the nine-letter sequence appears anywhere in one of
Shakespeare's writings, it is matched against the relevant passage
in a copy of the bard's complete works, and is checked off the
The monkeys, which started typing Aug 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.
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.