At CartridgeMonkey, we love a good story about our little hairy tree swinging friends. We even love stories about virtual monkeys that swing around a computer programme. We’ve all heard the scientific and mathematical theory about monkeys and typewriters; if you put an infinite amount of monkeys in a room with an unlimited supply of computers and printers, they will eventually recreate the entire works of Shakespeare. Now somebody has virtually put that theory to the test with an army of cyber monkeys.
Using Amazon’s SC2 cloud computer system, programmer Jesse Anderson attempted to test the theory. He set up millions of virtual cyber monkeys with programmes that churned out random sequences of nine letters at a time, each with a printer. Each of these nine letter sequences was checked against the whole works of Shakespeare, and if the sequence occurred anywhere in the text, it was crossed off the checklist.
And how many nine letter combinations do you think occur in the works of The Bard? A staggering 5.5 TRILLION! Almost as much as Manchester City pay in wages each week. Astonishingly, in just seven weeks, these virtual monkeys, who CartridgeMonkey are so proud of, have recreated over five trillion of the nine letter sequences. Only one of the plays has been completed in full so far, all the others are missing some of the nine letter sequences. At this phenomenal rate however, it won’t be long before all of them are completed.
Mr Anderson has been slated in some areas for the way his test has been run. People like Dr. Ian Stewart from Warwick University have pointed out that it is not the same as the monkeys typing out the whole of Shakespeare’s works in the correct order without any mistakes. However Mr Anderson countered that his test was better because at least he has guaranteed that no monkeys have been harmed during this experiment.
In 2003, the Arts Council for England tried out a real life version of the theory. They spent £2,000 on the test, which used six real life Sulawesi crested macaques and six computers. After only a month, the test was abandoned. The monkeys only produced five pages of text, mainly composed of the letter S, broke the computer and used the keyboard as a lavatory. I won‘t even tell you what they did with the printer paper!
At CartridgeMonkey.com, we tried the experiment ourselves using two of our customer service representatives, Jon and Dave. They fared just as badly, but at least they used the staff toilet. We hope!
With all those virtual monkeys around, you can avoid slipping on simulated banana skins by getting your ink cartridges, toner cartridges and printers for peanuts, just As You Like It, by visiting us here