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BUFFON

John Kennedy
Mathematics Department
Santa Monica College
1900 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
jkennedy@smc.edu or 71514:751@compuserve.com

The BUFFON program was designed to simulate an experiment in mathematical probability. The experiment is performed by randomly dropping needles on a grid of equally spaced parallel lines. The needles are all the same length which is exactly 1/2 the spacing between the lines. After all the needles are dropped a count is made of the number of needles which intersect any line. A given needle may intersect at most one line, but most needles (about 2/3+) do not intersect any line. The total number of needles divided by the number of intersecting needles approximates the number Pi. This experiment is named after the French naturalist Count Buffon (1707-1788) who dropped needles on a floor made of wooden planks. The lines correspond to the cracks between the planks. Buffon was trying to estimate the probability that a needle would fall across or into a crack. The mathematically precise answer is surprisingly related to Pi. The user can set the number of needles and control various aspects of the experiment. This program requires some form of graphics such as CGA or EGA or VGA hardware. The program automatically adapts to the highest graphics resolution of the hardware it finds.

(from buffon.abs)
Download jkbuffon.zip [48 KB].