Optimal search path for finding Waldo

Dr. Randy Olson is a senior data scientist at the University of Pennsylvania. He used 68 of Waldo’s coordinates from all seven “Where’s Waldo?” books to developed an optimal search path.

Of course, we should never take results from machine learning too literally. A robot might be able to follow this path perfectly, but I wouldn’t be able to remember that path unless it was etched on every page for me. Instead, I think we can take some general lessons from the path that the genetic algorithm discovered:

  1. The bottom of the left page is a good place to start. If Waldo isn’t on the bottom half of the left page, then he’s probably not on the left page at all.
  2. The upper quarter of the right page is the next best place to look. Waldo seems to prefer to hide on the upper quarter of the right page.
  3. Next check the bottom right half of the right page. Waldo also has an aversion to the bottom left half of the right page. Don’t bother looking there until you’ve exhausted the other hot spots.

I annotated the best solution with a general path to follow when searching for Waldo. If you don’t find Waldo at the end of that trail, then you’ve got an outlier and should check the middle of the pages or the top left and right.