Sunday, December 27, 2009



A Story



Whilst teaching information theory, before I start pontificating on the concepts of entropy, negentropy and syntropy, I tell my students this witty story of the monkeys and the hats.

Once upon a time there was a young hat seller who used to roam around from town to town selling hats for a living.

On one summer afternoon, while travelling from one city to another, he felt tired and decided to take a nap in the forest.

He found a mango tree with lots of branches and cool shade. Placing his bag of hats beside him the hat seller went to sleep.

When he woke up after a refreshing nap, he found that there were no hats in his bag.

Bewildered, he exclaimed to himself, “What bad luck. Of all the people, why did the thieves have to rob me?”

Suddenly he looked up and noticed that the mango tree was full of monkeys wearing all his colourful hats.

He yelled at the monkeys and they screamed back.

He made faces at them and in response the monkeys made the same funny faces back at him.

He threw a stone at them and they showered him with raw mangoes.

“Oh my God, how do I get my hats back?” the hat seller pondered for some time, and finding no answer he got so frustrated that he took off his own hat and threw it on the ground.

To his surprise, all the monkeys also threw their hats to the ground.

The hat seller did not waste a second and hurriedly collected all the hats and went on his way to the next town.

Fifty years later, the grandson of the same hat-seller who continued the family business of selling hats was passing through the same jungle.

After walking all afternoon he was very tired and found a nice mango tree with lots of branches and cool shade and he decided to rest a while and soon was fast asleep.

A few hours later, when he woke up, he realized that all the hats from his bag had vanished.

He started searching for them and to his surprise found some monkeys sitting on the mango tree wearing his hats.

At first he was confused, and at a loss not knowing what to do, but then suddenly he remembered the story his grandfather used to tell him about the monkeys and the hats.

“I know how to fool these monkeys,” he said to himself, “I will make them imitate me and very soon I will get all my hats back.”

He waved at the monkeys and the monkeys waved back at him.

He blew his nose and the monkeys blew their noses.

He started dancing and the monkeys also danced.

He pulled his ears and the monkeys pulled their ears.

He raised his hands and the monkeys raised their hands.

Then, he threw his hat on the ground expecting all the monkeys to do likewise.

But instead, one monkey jumped down from the mango tree and walked up to him. Then, looking into the young man’s eyes the monkey said, "Do you think only you had a grandfather?"

Had a laugh?
Liked the story?
Now, Dear Reader, please tell me what’s the meaning of Entropy?


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