Here's Waldo!

February 13, 2015

Where isn’t Waldo?

The algorithm is based on the 68 locations where Waldo is in all seven editions of the ‘Where’s Waldo?” books. An analysis of those locations shows firstly that Waldo almost never is at the top left of the page. Furthermore, Waldo rarely finds himself at the corners of the page and never at the bottom of the right page.

Most likely to find Waldo

To find out where Wally can be, one has to check every possible location while spending as little time as possible. That means one has to search a large surface without ‘visiting’ locations multiple times. Sounds logical, but how do you do that? Let me spare you the mathematical details, but what is nice to know, is that the algorithm developed an ‘optimal search path’ for finding Waldo. How does it work?

According to Olson “the bottom of the left page is a good place to begin. If Waldo isn’t in the bottom of the left page, that he probably isn’t at the left page at all. The top 25% of the right page is the second-best place to look. Wally likes to hide in this side of the right page.” And if you still cannot find him, then you have to check the bottom half of the right page. Waldo has an aversion to the bottom left half of the right page.

But even if you follow this route, it is possible that you cannot find Waldo. In the seven books, there are a couple of ‘misfits’. If you cannot find Waldo after following the path, then it is most likely that you’ve encountered a ‘misfit’ and then you have to search in the middle of the pages of top left and top right.

So, who's going to try to find Waldo with the help of this path? Or do you think it isn't fun anymore in this way?