In Brief: Optimal Search Strategy for Finding Waldo

By Norman Chan

He almost never appears in the top lefthand corner.

Remember those Where's Waldo books? (They even made a TV show about them.) Slate ran a story back in 2013 showing you the location of Waldo in all seven books in the series, but the interesting part of that story was that the authors claimed to have devised the best search strategy for finding the character. AI researcher and data visualization geek Randy Olson took Slate's data one step further, putting Waldo's locations through a genetic algorithm to devise an optimal search path. Of course, you and I know that the point of those books was never really to find Waldo. It was to admire the art of illustrator Martin Handford. Handford, like cross-section artist Stephen Biesty, worked in a uniquely dense visual style that I most associate with 90s' children's books. They were the Quentin Blake for millennials. (h/t Laughingsquid)