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The Probability of Monkeys Typing Shakespeare
http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=2409 ^ | William M. Briggs

Posted on 05/20/2010 5:03:54 AM PDT by mattstat

How long would it take a monkey typing randomly to reproduce the completes works of William (great name, incidentally) Shakespeare?

Once we know that, we can answer how long it would take a barrelful. If that is, we knew how many monkeys would fit in a standard barrel. In experiments conducted by your author, I can tell you the answer is eleven, but you have to press hard.

A typewritten work is composed, of course, of words, and in between those words are spaces and the occasional punctuation. Separating the words are headings, themselves comprised of words and numbers.

According to Bennett, Briggs (no relation), and Triola, Shakespeare penned 884,647 words, which isn’t as many as you would think. A standard newspaper-style column, of the kind you read at websites such as this, is 800 words. If Will wrote columns, 884,647 words would fill about 1,100 columns.

And if he wrote one column per day, then it would only take three years to have an oeuvre. After that, of course, comes retirement. Sounds like a government job, no?

Now, each, or nearly each, ...

(Excerpt) Read more at wmbriggs.com ...

TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: monkeys; shakespeare; typewriters

1 posted on 05/20/2010 5:03:54 AM PDT by mattstat

To: mattstat

Just get to the point. I’m sure the probability for this is much better than the probability Shakespeare would be created from nothing.

2 posted on 05/20/2010 5:15:29 AM PDT by demshateGod (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)

To: mattstat

If you had hundreds of millions of monkeys typing furiously for months and years on end, you still wouldn’t end up with a re-creation of Shakespeare’s works.

3 posted on 05/20/2010 5:27:03 AM PDT by Jay W

To: mattstat

If you had hundreds of millions of monkeys typing furiously for months and years on end, you still wouldn’t end up with a re-creation of Shakespeare’s works.

4 posted on 05/20/2010 5:27:27 AM PDT by Jay W

To: mattstat

So you are equivocating the accidental tapping of typewriter keys that mean nothing to a monkey...

to the deliberate creation in one short lifetime of some of the world’s greatest literature.

Only an engineer-type could make such a foolish equivocation.

5 posted on 05/20/2010 5:30:10 AM PDT by Ghost of Philip Marlowe (Prepare for survival.)

To: Ghost of Philip Marlowe

A statistician, perhaps? I’m surprised Phillip’s Ghost. Did you read it all the way through?

Its great to see you up early but you might not be a morning person?

6 posted on 05/20/2010 5:40:39 AM PDT by widdle_wabbit

To: mattstat

7 posted on 05/20/2010 5:41:55 AM PDT by Sender (It's never too late to be who you could have been.)

To: widdle_wabbit

No, I didn’t read it through.

I read the first few lines and assumed it was the same, dull argument I heard 25 years ago in college (from engineers).

And, yes, I replied B.C. (before coffee).

8 posted on 05/20/2010 5:44:31 AM PDT by Ghost of Philip Marlowe (Prepare for survival.)

To: mattstat

Not much of a probability of Monkeys Typing Shakespeare but they do make great speech writers for the D.C. hacks and msm.

9 posted on 05/20/2010 6:00:11 AM PDT by Vaduz

To: mattstat
I remember a long time ago reading Huxleys statement ... I sat down with a piece of paper and walked through the following back of the envelope analysis (yeah, I need a spreadsheet).

The keyboard in front of me has 104 keys. How likely is it that the phrase "to be or not to be, that is the question." could be typed by pressing the keys randomly (yeah, forget the complete works of Shakespeare, this phrase is formidable enough)

Each key depression has a likelihood of 1 out of 104, (1/104) or 0.0096153 ... there are 41 characters in the phrase, so the total likelihood is (1/104)^41 = 2x10^(-83) ... a dam small number.

If a monkey could type 41 characters per second (yes, we are making it easy on him) and then he repeats his trial every second, of every day, of every year, for a billion years ... (86400 seconds in a day, 365 days in a year, times a billion years ...) this reduces the likelihood to 6x10^(-67) ... and we havent made much progress on that dam small number.

How about if we put a monkey on each square foot of the planet (yeah that would be crowding them a little) and let them all go at it at the same time? Well, the surface area of the earth is 196940400 square miles ... times 5280*5280 square feet per square mile ... all this makes the likelihood 3x10^(-51) ... and you can now see that the monkeys are wasting their valuable time .... as am I with this useless post ... lol.

10 posted on 05/20/2010 6:04:42 AM PDT by dartuser ("Palin 2012 ... nothing else will do.")

To: Ghost of Philip Marlowe
So you are equivocating the accidental tapping of typewriter keys that mean nothing to a monkey... to the deliberate creation in one short lifetime of some of the world’s greatest literature.

Uh, no, I don't think that was the premise of the post at all.

I'm sure you've heard the claim that the chances of life occurring without intelligent intervention (i.e. God) is less than (or the same as depending on who is making the statement) some number of monkeys typing the complete works of Shakespear.

Whether the author agrees with that or not, I believe he is just investigating the statistical probability of a monkey (or monkeys) being able to do so.

11 posted on 05/20/2010 6:09:25 AM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)

To: MEGoody

Had I read it, maybe I wouldn’t have replied as I did.

12 posted on 05/20/2010 6:13:34 AM PDT by Ghost of Philip Marlowe (Prepare for survival.)

To: Ghost of Philip Marlowe

Please forgive me, but I am not sure if we are talking about the brilliance of the Bard, or are we equivocating about the probibility of ramdom chance being responsible for “life, the universe & everything” (42).

Was that “same, dull argument I heard 25 years ago in college (from engineers)” something along these lines?

“In their book Evolution from Space, astronomers Sir Fred Hoyle and Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe calculated that the odds of randomly producing the required enzymes for a simple living cell were 1 in 1040,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is only 1080, they argued that even a whole universe full of “primordial soup” wouldn’t stand a chance. Hoyle also compared the random emergence of the simplest cell to the likelihood that “a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”

http://www.esotericscience.org/articles/1a-The-Problem-with-Evolution.pdf

13 posted on 05/20/2010 6:21:09 AM PDT by BwanaNdege

To: MEGoody
Whether the author agrees with that or not, I believe he is just investigating the statistical probability of a monkey (or monkeys) being able to do so.

The monkeys would succeed 100% of the time if the output comes out encrypted. The question is not if monkeys could type out Shakespeare, but what is the statistical probability we could decrypt their output, or even prove it's not encrypted Shakespeare?

14 posted on 05/20/2010 6:46:43 AM PDT by Reeses (An educated fool and his money are ensuingly dichotomized.)

To: mattstat

How much time and how many journalists would it take to recreate the quality and quantity of work put out by Shakespeare?

15 posted on 05/20/2010 6:51:25 AM PDT by GOPJ (Americans..speak of capitalism's glories(rather)than of socialism's greatness. Elena Kagan (thesis))

To: BwanaNdege

16 posted on 05/20/2010 6:54:11 AM PDT by Ghost of Philip Marlowe (Prepare for survival.)

To: mattstat
17 posted on 05/20/2010 7:01:36 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( Seeking the truth here folks.)

To: mattstat

Can anyone find the Bob Newhart skit on infinte number of monkeys?

18 posted on 05/20/2010 7:05:50 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( Seeking the truth here folks.)

To: Ghost of Philip Marlowe

19 posted on 05/20/2010 7:50:55 AM PDT by BwanaNdege

To: Reeses
The monkeys would succeed 100% of the time if the output comes out encrypted.

LOL Sort of like the global warming theory. No matter what the weather, it's caused by global warming. No matter what the output, it's the works of Shakespeare.

20 posted on 05/20/2010 1:59:47 PM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)

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