PI is everywhere, and it’s now more precise than ever – as a Google staffer snags the world record for the most-calculated digits of pi.
The announcement comes at the perfect time, as March 14 is known globally as Pi Day.
That’s because pi – in its most basic form – is 3.14, which is also the US format for today’s date.
If you’ve forgotten since maths class, pi is the ratio of a circle’s radius to its circumference.
So if you take the distance from the centre of a circle to the edge, and then multiply it by 3.14, you’ll get the total distance around the edge of the circle.
It’s a neat maths trick, but pi has far more digits than simply 3.14, so supercomputers are often tasked with calculating the number to more digits.
And the world record has now been broken by Google employee Emma Haruka Iwao.
She managed to use Google Cloud’s Compute Engine to calculate pi to 31.4trillion figures.
Specifically, she calculated it to 31,415,926,535,897 digits, which also happens to be the value of pi – 3.1415926535897.
“Pi seems simple – it starts with 3.14. When I was a kid, I downloaded a program to calculate pi on my computer,” Emma explained.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t have access to supercomputers.
“But even if you don’t work for Google, you can apply for various scholarships and programs to access computing resources.
“I was very fortunate that there were Japanese world record holders that I could relate to myself.
“I’m really happy to be one of the few women in computer science holding the record, and I hope I can show more people who want to work in the industry what’s possible.”
Emma used an application called y-cruncher on 25 Google Cloud virtual machines.
The calculation took those virtual machines about 121 days to complete – with zero breaks, otherwise the calculation would’ve been disrupted.
“The biggest challenge with pi is that it requires a lot of storage and memory to calculate,”Emma explained.
That calculation took roughly 170 terabytes of data to complete.
For context, a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, and a standard iPhone these days comes with about 64 gigabytes of storage.
And a typical Full HD movie will take up just a few gigabytes of space on your phone or computer.
Emma, who works on Google Cloud, has published the computed digits, which anyone can now access to use as a computational resource.
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Will you be eating any pie on Pi Day? Let us know in the comments!
Google calculates pi to 31TRILLION digits by breaking world record on ‘Pi Day’ – and the calculation took 121 days to complete