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Computer scientist can find Waldo faster than you

As a researcher at Michigan State University's High-Performance Computing Center, Randal Olson has access to computers hundreds of times more powerful than your typical PC.

And what does he do with all that binary brawn? Find Waldo of course.

Unexpectedly snowed in during last week's storm, Olson – who studies algorithms and artificial intelligence – decided to teach his computer to solve the puzzles in Where's Waldo? books.

Olson plotted every location where Waldo was found across seven different books. He then created an algorithm to discover where Waldo hid most often, and charted the shortest distance between those points.

"If we followed the path exactly, we’d most likely find Waldo much faster than someone following a more basic technique," he wrote in a blog post.

According to Olson's prediction, the most likely spot to find the red-capped traveller is the bottom of the left-hand page, followed by the top, right-hand corner of the right page.

Olson has yet to test his theory, but he cautioned would-be Waldo spotters against relying too heavily on the algorithm.

"Barring a situation where someone puts a gun to your head and forces you to find Waldo faster than their colleague, I don’t recommend actually using this strategy for casual Where’s Waldo? reading," he said.

"As with so many things in life, the joy of finding Waldo is in the journey, not the destination."

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