back to article WHERE'S WALLY? He's in this algorithm, says developer

The location of stripe-shirt-wearing picture book character Wally has been nailed down by cold hard algorithms. Where's Wally (or Where's Waldo in the US and Canada) books have inflicted eye-strain and brought tears and screams to kiddies since their 1987 debut, when the series first asked readers to spot the titular character …

  1. as2003

    Misleading title

    > After 28 years, MACHINES find Wally

    > Python and genetic algorithm spot stripey-shirted cartoon fugitive in a jiffy

    No. You're implying his algorithms found Wally, when in fact he already had all the locations of Wally. His algorithms just found a reasonably short path between the locations Wally has previously appeared - the classic Travelling Salesman problem.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Misleading title

      So I can't take a photo of a room and use the algorythm to find my car keys then?

      Bang goes any real-world application for me then..

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Misleading title

      "You're implying his algorithms found Wally"

      From the story title, I was half expecting to see an ASCII art Wally in the algorithm code listing :-)

    3. Suricou Raven

      Re: Misleading title

      I could produce a program myself to find 'candidate wally' sites in an image by looking for the characteristic adjacent regions of red and white. However, the artist is on to this trick and always includes a number of 'decoy' appearances of the same pattern for those who scan visually for stripes. So human verification would still be needed to determine which candidate was the real Wally.

  2. John Tserkezis

    Oh good, I was wasting so much of my time with waldo and puzzle books, now that I have software to take care of that, it leaves me so much more free time.

    1. Kaltern

      To write (poorly crafted) sarcasm on here you mean?

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        I think his sarcasm is really cool.

  3. solo
    Terminator

    "barring a situation where someone puts a gun to your head"

    and what if someone with a gun is looking for your head through this algorithm...

    1. maffski

      Re: "barring a situation where someone puts a gun to your head"

      Take off the stripy hat and you'll be fine.

  4. Little Mouse
    Childcatcher

    There he is!

    All the WW books were created by the same person, so I'm not surprised that patterns could be found. Does it also work for all those Where's Wally rip-offs as well? (Where's Stig, Where's 1Dimension, etc)

    Or am I taking this too seriously?

  5. Robin

    RO RO

    > Now data-fancier Randal Olson Randal Olson has created a machine learning system

    So good they named him twice?

    1. Random Coolzip

      Re: RO RO

      > So good they named him twice?

      It was a big delivery room, there was an echo.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: RO RO

      Oi! My name is Randal Olson Randal Olson, and so is my wife's. (Her maiden name was Randal Olson Luxury Yacht, pronounced "Throat Warbler Mangrove".)

      It's quite a common name around these parts.

  6. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    WTF?

    "Olson was quick to acknowledge that his time and capabilities could have been applied to more pressing endeavours."

    'more pressing'?

    Bloody hell, people get awards for such work.

  7. Sarah Balfour

    Where's Wally…?

    11 Downing Street

  8. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Fairly trivial with the right tool

    http://mathematica.stackexchange.com/questions/1911/what-is-the-fastest-way-to-locate-an-image-inside-a-larger-image

    1. CraPo

      Re: Fairly trivial with the right tool

      This requires an exact image of Wally. I seem to remember he changes subtly in every picture; angle, facial expression etc.

    2. Mark #255

      Re: Fairly trivial with the right tool

      Actually, a specific Wally-finding algorithm has been posted (based on the red-and-white stripes) to stackoverflow already.

      What Mr Olson has posted is the quickest way to find Wally yourself, without a computer.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Fairly trivial with the right tool

        What Mr Olson has posted is the quickest way to find Wally yourself, without a computer.

        More precisely, it's the optimal search path (at least for the corpus he used), regardless of whether you search manually or with a machine, assuming a single searcher that can only examine one neighborhood of the image at a time. But it's presented as an optimization for manual search.

  9. Dr. Ellen

    This is all very well, but --

    Can the algorithm tell us where in the world is Carmen Santiago?

    1. hooter

      Re: This is all very well, but --

      Perhaps, but an algorithm that could answer "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" might prove to be a greater triumph.

  10. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Never mind Waldo, where are my #$%@ing car keys?

    Beaten by a faster poster.

  11. Old Handle
    Trollface

    Can it find him in the one where he's in a world full of clones of himself and you can only tell which he is because the real Waldo has lost a shoe?

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