Number Haiku


In this article I will talk about making a haiku using the numbers 0-9 (ie. 0, 1, 2, ..., 9). I will denote this set of numbers as S.

Why would someone want to make a haiku like this? Good question. Maybe they like haikus or alternative poetry? Maybe they like numbers? Perhaps they are making a code? Or, maybe they just like the challenge of it. For me, I like the challenge, like numbers, and, probably like most people, find certain numbers significant in my life. Consider, for example, 911, 711 (I like Slurpees, OK?), 007, 411, 24/7, 777, 666, ages, addresses, phone numbers, birth, death, anniversary dates, text converted to numbers, and many more possibilities.

All of the numbers in S have one syllable, except 0 and 7 which have 2. Therefore, we can construct 5 and 7 syllable lines pretty easily by concatenating the numbers from S.

I put the numbers from S in a column and randomly sample from them to fill the 5, 7, and 5 lines in the haiku. I keep track of the cumulative syllable count for each line. I don't allow the counts to get over 5, 7, or 5, respectively. Just to be clear here, I am not saying a haiku must always be 575 or that 575 is the definition of a haiku.

Because of this constraint, what can happen is that lines can have one syllable less than 5, 7, or 5. For example, say the first line only has a syllable count of 4 because the next number would push the syllable count over 5 (for example if 0 were to be selected). I simulated thousands of haikus and found out that this scenario occurs about 42% of the time.

To remedy this, when this happens I simply randomly select from the list S1, where S1 is a list of all numbers that are one syllable (ie. the numbers in S but without the numbers 0 or 7), and concatenate this number on the end (although it could be inserted anywhere in a line). Doing this I automatically get 5, 7, and 5 lines with the correct syllable counts.

I also make two versions of each haiku; the word version and the number version. For example, the two versions for a 5 line from a haiku might be "six four zero two" or "6402".

Here are some examples:

zero eight nine three
four four nine one five nine six
zero six six six

zero four three eight
seven seven seven eight
seven five six five

Here are their numerical versions



I also made a tab in the spreadsheet that just creates binary ones. That is, S = {0,1}. And just for giggles, I also convert these binary 575 lines to their decimal equivalent. Here is an example of a binary number haiku:

one zero one one
one one zero zero one
one one one one one

And the numerical version


One could also use this general idea to mix words with numbers in a haiku, or randomly sample from any words you want with any constraint you want.

Here is a spreadsheet that creates these number haikus. You are free to edit the spreadsheet, but please credit if you use it.

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