What could an infinite number of monkeys sitting at typewriters do? Type the complete works of William Shakespeare, according to the Infinite Monkey Theorem. In fact, according to the theorem, a single monkey typing randomly for an infinite amount of time will eventually type any text.
US programmer Jesse Anderson has put the theory to the test by creating millions of virtual monkeys who, apparently, have already typed up Shalespeare’s narrative poem, A Lover’s Complaint and are 99.99% of their way through the complete works.
“This is the largest work ever randomly reproduced. It is one small step for a monkey, one giant leap for virtual primates everywhere,” blogged Anderson.
Experts, meanwhile, have questioned the theoretical vigour of the experiment.
In 2003 the Arts Coucil for England shelled out £2,000 for a real-life test of the theorem involving six Sulawesi crested macaques.
The monkeys produced five pages of text, mainly comprising the repeated letter ‘S’, but could not summon anything close to an English word. They also broke the computer and used the keyboard as a lavatory. The trial was abandoned after a month.