A new monkey Shakespeare simulator has risen, and has managed to get through a good ninety-nine percent of Shakespeare's works. Why has this new challenger done so well when others have failed?
Top image: Art by Heather Fallows, via Jemima Gibbons on Flickr.
Jesse Anderson has created a new version of the million-monkeys-on-a-million-typewriters thought experiment. He has built a simulator to pound out jibberish, imitating random pounding on a keyboard by monkeys, in an effort to find out whether enough random typing can eventually recreate the entire works of William Shakespeare. It seems like it can. The virtual monkeys have tapped out over ninety-nine percent of all of Shakespeare's plays, and have finished the poem "A Lovers Complaint" — which goes something like, "Wherefore am I surrounded by all these damn dirty apes?" (I think. I'm rusty on my Shakespeare.)
This is not the first monkey Shakespeare simulator to hit web, but it is the most successful. The original Monkey Shakespeare Simulator Project produced 10^35 pages before it was shut down, but its largest string was only a twenty-three character phrase from Timon of Athens. Anyone who has read it knows there's a zinger or two in it. On his tombstone Timon wants this inscribed, "Here lie I, Timon, who alive all living men did hate. Pass by and curse thy fill, but pass, and stay not here thy gait." In other words, 'Keep moving, jerks.' Still, the play isn't worth the expended energy of all those monkeys, and they didn't recreate one of the good lines anyway.