June 25, 2004

World’s Longest Palindrome

by Nick Montfort · , 1:02 pm

It’s been making the rounds after an upgrade: Dennis Jerz blogged about the program written, and text produced, by Peter Norvig at Google. (Norvig is co-author of the excellent textbook Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.) Norvig claims that his generated text, currently 17,259 words in length, is “the longest palindromic sentence ever created.”

Well … 0wn3d. Here is a palindromic sentence that is 40,000 words long.

To my knowledge, Norvig’s text — which is impressive in some ways — is the longest palindromic list of unique English words including proper nouns. (There are articles, “a” and “an,” in front of the nouns that aren’t proper nouns, too.) If “unique” is removed from this description, the 40,000-word palindrome above would also be included in the category. If Norvig’s word list counts as a sentence, the 40,000-word palindrome should, too.

More interesting to me than Norvig’s length assertions are his attempts to (at least is some ways) read or gloss his palindrome, found in the “commentary” section. Reading 2002: A Palindrome Story suddenly may not look so hard.