ZD Tech: Pi, a new calculation record for Google

Hello everyone and welcome to ZD Tech, ZDNet’s daily editorial podcast. My name is Guillaume Serriesand today I explain to you how Google just set the new record for calculating the number Pi.

3.141592, and more! How long does it take to calculate 100 trillion digits behind the decimal point of the number Pi? Ask Google.

Emma Haruka Iwao, employed by Google Cloud, Google’s cloud computing subsidiary, set a new world record for calculating the most digits of Pi. Of course, beyond the record, this was to demonstrate the power of Google’s cloud computing systems.

One of the oldest approximations of Pi is found on an Egyptian papyrus

For 4,000 years, mathematicians and scientists have struggled to calculate the numbers of Pi.

One of the earliest approximations of Pi is found on an Egyptian papyrus. In less than 1800 BC, its author had managed to calculate two decimal places after the comma, that is to say 3.15.

At 14e century, the Persian astronomer of Samarkand, Jemshid al Kashi, uses the famous method of Archimedes to calculate a value approximated to 14 exact decimals.

The calculation took just under 158 days

And that should last forever, since Pi is an irrational number – that is, it is written with an infinite number of decimal places without any logical sequence. But as of today, we now know at least the first 100 trillion digits of Pi, thanks to Google’s project.

Google does not specify in detail the computing power needed to set this new record. But the calculation took just under 158 days.

Beyond computer power, Google boasts with this experience the reliability of its products. In fact, the program ran for more than five months without node failure and successfully processed every bit of the 82 petabytes of disk input and output.

The 100 trillionth decimal place of Pi is 0

Google used the open-source tool Terraform to test different infrastructure options and choose the optimal settings. And the code used to calculate the 100 trillion digits is available on GitHub.

If you have time, the full sequence of figures calculated by Google is available online.

This new record beats the one established in 2021 by Swiss scientists, who had managed to calculate the mathematical constant to 62.8 trillion decimal places. In 2019, the penultimate record was 31.4 trillion digits, and the calculation took 121 days.

So Google’s calculation took half the time.

Finally, know that the 100 trillionth decimal place of Pi is 0. Thanks Google.

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