Infinite monkey theorem

related topics
{theory, work, human}
{math, number, function}
{specie, animal, plant}
{work, book, publish}
{film, series, show}
{language, word, form}
{system, computer, user}
{rate, high, increase}
{math, energy, light}
{food, make, wine}
{church, century, christian}
{day, year, event}
{god, call, give}
{island, water, area}
{@card@, make, design}

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

In this context, "almost surely" is a mathematical term with a precise meaning, and the "monkey" is not an actual monkey, but a metaphor for an abstract device that produces a random sequence of letters ad infinitum. The theorem illustrates the perils of reasoning about infinity by imagining a vast but finite number, and vice versa. The probability of a monkey exactly typing a complete work such as Shakespeare's Hamlet is so tiny that the chance of it occurring during a period of time of the order of the age of the universe is minuscule, but not zero.

Variants of the theorem include multiple and even infinitely many typists, and the target text varies between an entire library and a single sentence. The history of these statements can be traced back to Aristotle's On Generation and Corruption and Cicero's De natura deorum, through Blaise Pascal and Jonathan Swift, and finally to modern statements with their iconic typewriters. In the early 20th century, Émile Borel and Arthur Eddington used the theorem to illustrate the timescales implicit in the foundations of statistical mechanics.

Popular interest in the typing monkeys is sustained by numerous appearances in literature, television, radio, music, and the Internet. In 2003, an experiment was performed with six Celebes Crested Macaques. Their literary contribution was five pages consisting largely of the letter 'S'.[1]

Contents

Full article ▸

related documents
Probability
David Hilbert
John von Neumann
Abductive reasoning
Extreme Programming
Planner (programming language)
Proposition
Optimality theory
Categorization
Complexity
Object (philosophy)
The Selfish Gene
Rupert Sheldrake
August Weismann
Psychoanalytic literary criticism
Visual thinking
Religious humanism
Newcomb's paradox
Functional decomposition
Nyaya
Franz Brentano
Otto Neurath
Moral absolutism
Observational learning
False consciousness
Environmental determinism
Allan Bloom
Human Potential Movement
Installation art
Auguste Comte