Patterico's Pontifications

5/9/2003

MONKEY TYPING EXPERIMENT: A bunch

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:45 pm

MONKEY TYPING EXPERIMENT: A bunch of monkeys are put in a room with a computer and keyboard. What is the result? If you guessed literature resembling Shakespeare, then you may be a fan of 19th-century scientist Thomas Huxley — but maybe you haven’t been hanging out with real monkeys lately.

Some researchers tried it. They actually left a computer in a monkey enclosure in an English zoo. The results are described here. In terms of the literary output, basically, the monkeys pressed the “S” key a lot. “Later, the letters A, J, L and M crept in.”

It didn’t start out that auspiciously, though. Actually, according to one researcher, the first thing that happened was that “the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of [the computer] . . . Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard.”

Heh heh. Monkeys.

One Response to “MONKEY TYPING EXPERIMENT: A bunch”

  1. I once computed how far a million monkeys would get in a million years in typing Hamlet by sheer luck. Assuming 50 keys per keyboard and one keystroke per second, the monkeys could reliably type out the following:

    “Act I, Sc…”

    Proof:

    1,000,000 monkeys begin
    20,000 type “A” in the first second.
    400 of those type “C” in the next second.
    8 of those type “T” in the next second.

    We’re now down to fractional monkeys… so let’s increase the amount of time. We’ll use rough approximations instead of exact multiples of 50.

    8 monkeys type “ACT ” in one minute.
    They type “ACT I” in two days.
    “ACT I” takes 100 days.
    “ACT I,” takes 12 years.
    “ACT I, ” takes 600 years.
    “ACT I, S” takes 30,000 years.
    “ACT I, SC” takes 1,500,000 years.

    So much for Hamlet.

    Scott W. Somerville (49dea0)


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