AMONKEYS: An Unusual Program That Provides a Deep Insight

by Mark Spahn

Remember those dozens of monkeys seated at keyboards banging on keys with observers looking over their shoulders seeing if any of them had typed the Gettysburg Address: "Four score and seven years ago,..." Here is a program that modifies that experiment in two essential ways. First, each of the monkeys has a target key in that speech: Monkey 1: F; Monkey 2: O; Monkey 3: U; Monkey 4: R; Monkey 5: space; and so on. Second, once a monkey hits its target key, its keyboard locks.

The program
AMONKEYS runs this experiment with 14 monkeys seeking the target text FOUR SCORE AND, which has an equal number (14) of characters.

To see this process in action:

  1. Download all of the programs and the AMONKEYS Annotation from the "Downloads" page to your computer.
  2. Load them into your TI-84 calculator using TI-Connect and
3 Run the program AMONKEYS.
  1. This program applies directly to our thinking about evolution. It shows how rapidly small individual changes can add up.