Browse Definitions:
Definition

# Infinite Monkey Theorem

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

The Infinite Monkey Theorem is a proposition that an unlimited number of monkeys, given typewriters and sufficient time, will eventually produce a particular text, such as Hamlet or even the complete works of Shakespeare.

The reasoning behind that supposition is that, given infinite time, random input should produce all possible output.The Infinite Monkey Theorem translates to the idea that any problem can be solved, with the input of sufficient resources and time. That idea has been applied in various contexts, including software development and testing, commodity computing, project management and the SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project to support a greater allocation of resources -- often, more specifically, a greater allocation of low-end resources -- to solve a given problem. The theorem is also used to illustrate basic concepts in probability.

In 2002, researchers at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom tested the theorem with six crested macaques in a cage with a computer. The monkeys hit the machine with a rock and urinated on it; when they typed, it was mainly the letter "s." However, it should be noted that neither the number of monkeys nor the time allowed for the experiment were infinite.

In 2011, American programmer Jesse Anderson created a software-based infinite monkey experiment to test the theorem. Anderson used his own computer, working with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Hadoop. The virtual monkeys were a million small programs generating random nine-character sequences. When any sequence matched a string of Shakespearean text, that string was checked off. The project finished the complete works in 1.5 months.

The Million Monkey Project was mostly just for fun, and did not really replicate the theorem's scenario. Nevertheless, Anderson's methods could potentially be applied to real-world problems, such as DNA sequencing

In the early 20th century, Émile Borel, a mathematician, and Sir Arthur Eddington, an astronomer, used the Infinite Monkey Theorem to illustrate timescales implied within statistical mechanics. In popular culture, the theorem has appeared in many works, including Russell Maloney's short story, "Inflexible Logic," Douglas Adam's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and an episode of the Simpsons.

The IETF's Network Working Group applied the concept in their Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite (RFC 2795), in one of their famous April 1 documents.

This was last updated in October 2013

#### Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

## SearchCompliance

• ### PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a Congressionally-established nonprofit that assesses audits of public ...

• ### cyborg anthropologist

A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

• ### RegTech

RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

## SearchSecurity

• ### email spam

Email spam, or junk email, is unsolicited bulk messages sent through email with commercial, fraudulent or malicious intent.

• ### distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack

A distributed denial-of-service attack occurs when an attack originates from multiple computers or devices, usually from multiple...

• ### application whitelisting

Application whitelisting is the practice of identifying applications that have been deemed safe for execution and restricting all...

## SearchHealthIT

• ### national provider identifier (NPI)

A national provider identifier (NPI) is a unique ten-digit identification number required by HIPAA for covered healthcare ...

• ### athenahealth Inc.

Based in Watertown, Mass., athenahealth Inc. is a leading vendor of cloud-based EHRs for small to medium-sized physician ...

• ### Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is legislation passed in 2010 that changed how uninsured Americans enroll in and receive healthcare...

## SearchDisasterRecovery

• ### disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

• ### data recovery

Data recovery restores data that has been lost, accidentally deleted, corrupted or made inaccessible. Learn how data recovery ...

• ### disaster recovery plan (DRP)

A company's disaster recovery policy is enhanced with a documented DR plan that formulates strategies, and outlines preparation ...

## SearchStorage

• ### GlusterFS (Gluster File System)

GlusterFS (Gluster File System) is an open source distributed file system that can scale out in building-block fashion to store ...

• ### virtual memory

Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an OS that allows a computer to compensate for physical memory shortages by ...

• ### yottabyte (YB)

A yottabyte is a measure of theoretical storage capacity and is 2 to the 80th power bytes, or, in decimal, approximately 1,000 ...

## SearchSolidStateStorage

• ### PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

• ### SSD caching

SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

• ### NVDIMM (Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module)

An NVDIMM (non-volatile dual in-line memory module) is hybrid computer memory that retains data during a service outage.

## SearchCloudStorage

• ### RESTful API

A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

• ### cloud storage infrastructure

Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

• ### Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close