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Random Occurrence of Recognizable Images

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This challenge is to create a distributed-processing screen saver users can install on their computer that will generate random images and compare them to a set of predefined images to see how long it takes for a match to occur.

Imagine a computer screen that is programmed to continuously display random pixels over an unlimited amount of time. Of course, it would produce a lot of visual static, but eventually, just by chance, a recognizable image, like the Mona Lisa, would appear.

In fact, eventually it will also produce an accurate image of Abraham Lincoln’s asassination by John Wilkes Booth. Not only that, but it will display every possible variation of Lincoln’s assignation: being clubbed by John Wilkes Booth, ticked to death by Mary Todd, drown in marmalade by the starting line up of the 1976 Philadelphia Fliers, etc.

Given enough time, the computer will even display an image of the reader sitting in front of his or her computer right now reading this sentence—from every possible angle. Actually, the computer will eventually display images from the reader’s entire life, even events that haven’t occurred yet.


1. Screen saver must operate when a user’s computer is idle for a user-defined period of time

A. Idle is defined as a period of time without any user input

2. Screen saver must generate a image consisting of randomly colored pixels

A. Pixels shall consist of a combination of the colors red, green and blue

I. The color depth of each pixel shall measure 8 bits

B. Image must measure 8 bits by 640 pixels by 480 pixel

3. Screen saver must retrieve a data set from a central server

A. Data set must consist of non-consecutive image patterns

B. Data set must be unique

I. Any one set of data shall be processed only once

4. Screen saver must return results to a central server

5. Screen saver must compare results with at least ten (10) distinct control images

A. Images must include the following:

I. The Mona Lisa

II. An illustration depicting the assignation of Abraham Lincoln

III. Screen Grab of the front page of the New York Times’ website from the day the solution was submitted.

IV. Scanned image of a page from one of William Shakespeare’s plays

V. Any one photograph taken by the solution’s developer

VI. Any five (5) additional images chosen by the solution’s developer

6. Screen saver must determine whether the randomly generated pixels match any of the at least ten (10) control images

A. An image is considered a match if all the following criteria are met:

I. 90% of the randomly created image matches within a margin of 5% the corresponding pixels of a control image

II. 5% of the remaining pixels of the randomly created image matches within a margin of 25% the corresponding pixels of a control image

III. The remaining 5% of pixels of the randomly created image do not have to match the corresponding pixels of a control image

7. Screen saver must be compatible with a version of each of the following operating systems

A. Windows XP

B. Windows Vista

C. Linux

D. Mac OS X

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Prize Information

Prize ID Number: ZAWT0J3SF Prize Author: jkpepper Prize Organizer: jkpepper Date Started: December 12, 2007 Open for Revisions Until: January 15, 2013 09:53 PM EST

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