Nick Montfort, Round


Nick Montfort develops literary generators and other computational art and poetry. He has participated in dozens of literary and academic collaborations. He is associate professor of digital media at MIT and faculty advisor for the Electronic Literature Organization, whose Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1 he co-edited. Montfort wrote the book of poems Riddle & Bind and co-wrote 2002. The MIT Press has published four of Montfort's collaborative and individually-authored books: The New Media Reader, Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam, and most recently 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, a collaboration with nine other authors that Montfort organized.


Round is a computational poem that is both non-interactive and deterministic. It is computational in that computation is an essential aspect of the work, non-interactive because there is no input accepted as the program runs, and deterministic because the text produced should be the same each time on any properly-functioning computer. The poem is also infinite (in the sense of boundless); there is no final line or internally specified condition that will cause the program will stop. Round is not never-ending, since whatever computational resources one has will eventually be exhausted, but there is no pre-set length to the poem.

The poem is assembled out of ten fragments, one of which is a newline (line break). The other nine are strings of legible text. Round computes the digits of π, pausing after each digit is computed. (Each time Round is loaded, it begins at 3, continues to 1, continues to 4, and so on.) For each digit computed, the fragment corresponding to that digit is added to the poem. If the fragment selected is a line break, Round begins a new line. 

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