Google employee breaks the world record for calculating the value of pi

Joanna Estrada
March 14, 2019

Googler Emma Haraku Iwao took her fascination with pi all the way to 31.4 trillion digits.

Google employee Emma Haruka Iwao broke the world record for calculating pi just in time for Thursday's National Pi Day. This is nearly 9 trillion digits more than the previous world record, which was set in November 2016 by Peter Trueb. The previous record, set by Peter Trueb in late 2016, was 22.4 trillion digits.

Since she was 12, Haruka Iwao has been fascinated by pi, the enigmatic mathematical constant defined as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. "When I was a kid, I downloaded a program to calculate pi on my computer". Her present-day Google project put that childhood interest on steroids.

To calculate the number, Iwao used an application called y-cruncher on 25 Google Cloud virtual machines. As you would expect that amount of digits requires a lot of storage - she calculates she required 170 terabytes to finish the calculation. The calculation required 140TB of data, and took about 121 days to complete.

"In terms of how long this record might stand, we can't predict the future".

Pi has been computed to 31.4 trillion decimal places or 31,415,926,535,897 digits to be exact, using Google Compute Engine, powered by Google Cloud.

Google has made the digits available as disk snapshots for anyone to use (without having to fill multiple drives in the process).

This year marks the 31st anniversary of Pi Day, which is believed to be celebrated first by physicist Larry Shawand and his peers at the Exploratorium in San Francisco in 1988.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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