Where’s Waldo? Find Him With Code-Fu

You might have spent hours poring over “Where’s Waldo?” books as a kind, trying to find that bespectacled nerd in that red-striped shirt. One guy found him using Mathematica code.

This story comes to us from Geekosystem via Stack Overflow, a major online hangout for programmers of all stripes. Stack Overflow user Heike created a simple and ingenious way to find Waldo. You can try out the code yourself if you happen to have a copy of Mathematica. If you’re anywhere near a college computer lab, you can probably do so without shelling out for your own copy. (Your best bet is probably in the science department.)

Waldo found with Mathematica

The code itself is on the Stack Overflow site, but for non-programming geeks, it picks out all the red in the image, figures out if it’s next to white stripes, then draws a circle around what it thinks is Waldo.

(And if you’re a non-programming geek, shame on you! It’s not especially hard to learn how. There are plenty of free tutorials online, including Codecademy. Stack Overflow is also very friendly to beginners, so feel free to ask if there if you get stuck.)

As you can see, the results are pretty impressive, with Heike’s answer getting 790 upvotes as of this writing.

If you’d like to play around with images on the Web yourself, you might want to check out Hackasaurus.