Feeds

Roses are #f00, violets are #00f. This witty code is a boffinry breakthrough

'I like my relationships like I like my kernel source... open'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

What do you call a computer program that uses big data to write jokes? Basic, judging by the list of groan-worthy gags generated by this new wisecracking software.

Eggheads at the University of Edinburgh have developed code dedicated to spitting out quips along the lines of: "I like my men like I like my monoxide - odourless" and "I like my women like I like my gas - natural".

The system was tested on a group of volunteers who claimed the witty algorithms made them chuckle a few times, although not as much as similar, human-penned jokes chosen from Twitter.

It uses 2,000,000 noun-adjective pairs of words to draw up jokes "with an element of surprise", something the creators claim is key to good comedy. The one-liners were produced by searching for connections between pairings of words using Google n-gram data and Wordnet's part-of-speech tags.

Other jokes calculated by the software include:

  • I like my relationships like I like my source code... open
  • I like my boys like I like my disk sectors... bad
  • I like my coffee like I like my war... cold

As snigger-worthy as they are, there's some way to go until computers are as funny as their human masters, said David Matthews of the university's School of Informatics, who wrote the program with Sasa Petrovic.

"Computers have an advantage over people in that they can process masses of information, so we fed computers a wealth of material from which they extracted creative and unusual word combinations to fit our joke template," he said.

"The holy grail for machine-generated comedy would be to include cultural references, but these are very hard to capture."

Speaking of cultural references, the academic paper describing the software is also amusing, in a nerdy way. Here's one extract as an example:

In the automatic evaluation we measure the effect of the different factors in the model … It is a local approximation to log-likelihood, and we therefore dub it LOcal Log-likelihood, or LOL-likelihood for short. Our second metric computes the rank of the human-generated jokes in the distribution of all possible jokes sorted decreasingly by their LOL-likelihood.

This Rank OF Likelihood (ROFL) is computed relative to the number of all possible jokes, and like LOL-likelihood is averaged over all the jokes in our development data.

For measuring LOL-likelihood and ROFL we use a set of 48 jokes randomly sampled from Twitter that fit the "I like my X like I like my Y, Z" pattern.

The e-comedian project [paper PDF] will be presented at the Association for Computational Linguistics annual meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, next week. ®

(An SQL statement walks into a bar, wanders over to two tables and asks: “May I join you?” ...we're here all week. For some commentards, months.)

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.