In my previous post on “pangrammatic autograms”, I included a cute tool to fiddle with these magical sentences and see whether they were correct. I then exclaimed (!) that the pan-autogram that I found in Hofstadter’s I Am A Strange Loop was incorrect!

Well, a Reddit user pointed out that I am a completely useless idiot and deserve to be cast into the North Sea on a raft of overripe bananas, because the reason why my cute tool found Hofstadter’s pangram to be bogus was simply that it didn’t account for capital letters. I usually consider myself a competent programmer so this is pretty embarrassing. I should probably add some daily self-flaggelation to my banana-raft itinerary.

Anyway, despite my slanderous repudiation of a claim made by an intellectual hero, the widget still does its job of illustrating the difficulty of getting to a pan-autogram. So the article’s core message is intact, even if the self-respect of its author is in tatters.

One more thing!

One more note about that article. The party trick at the end was trickier than you might think. I extended Patuzzos’s Sentient tool and fed it in my article as the “seed sentence”, but it didn’t have any solutions! With the article as it stood, it was impossible to make it accurately autogrammatic. It’s intuitively not too surprising that as the seed sentence gets longer (i.e. grows from “this sentence contains … and” to the entirety of my article), the likelihood that there is a valid solution begins to wane.

So I actually extended the tool further, to find near-miss autograms, where the resultant article would almost, but not quite accurately tally all its constituent letters. After leaving my laptop whirring overnight, I found a set of tallies that would be correct if I simply removed three m’s, one s, and one t from the other parts of the article. This took a bit of fiddling - I had to add and remove a few letters and shoehorn in the word “acmatic” to reach the right aggregate change in letter counts. You can see the changes I made to the article here.