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Pi Day and an Interview With a Pi Researcher 188

Posted by timothy
from the much-depends-on-your-date-format dept.
JoshuaInNippon writes "In honor of Pi Day, March 14 (or 3.14 for those who may need a hint), readers may be interested in reading an interview with Professor Daisuke Takahashi, the Japanese researcher who found 2.5 trillion digits of Pi back in August, before being apparently being edged out in December by a French computer programmer looking to prove his efficient coding abilities. Professor Takahashi's interview gives some unique insight into one man who truly marvels at the number that has driven people to ever greater lengths to find more digits for centuries." Plant Kingdom adds "There have been a number of proposals for alternatives to March 14 (see the Wikipedia page for Pi Day). Here's mine: when the Earth has gone through 1/pi-th of its orbit, as measured from Winter Solstice to Winter Solstice. I've put together a web site to make the case."
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Pi Day and an Interview With a Pi Researcher

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  • by short (66530) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @08:54AM (#31471560) Homepage
    Calling Fabrice Bellard "a French computer programmer"? Is it a joke?
  • by Saint Stephen (19450) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @09:05AM (#31471618) Homepage Journal

    1/pi is not pi. It's like celebrating the third time something happened by doing something one third of the way through and then stopping!

    "When a circle's diameter is one unit, then the cirmcumference is pi units." []

    So if a year is "one unit", we should celebrate pi every 3.14 years or something.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @09:07AM (#31471640) Journal

    I understand that in the book "Contact" by Carl Sagan, when the scientists meets the aliens he asks them a question:

    Scientist: Do you believe in God?

    Aliens: Yes.

    (Astonished) Scientist: Really?! Why?

    Aliens: We have proof.

    Scientist: Proof?!!!

    Alien: Yes, when we decoded Pi to (a very large number) we found a Message...

    Of course this idea was exploited in a different way by the movie "Pi". (Sorry didn't see it either.). In any case, if Pi is truly Random (it is isn't it?) won't every possible message occur? Just like those monkeys with their typewriters (if you don't know what a typewriter is look it up).

  • by jc42 (318812) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @09:51AM (#31471828) Homepage Journal

    In any case, if Pi is truly Random (it is isn't it?) won't every possible message occur?

    Hmmm ... You must be using an unusual definition of "random", which usually means that the value is unpredictable. Pi is the opposite of random. It's precisely defined and always has the same value for anyone who calculates it correctly. (Which leaves out the religious folks, but that's to be expected for anything requiring validity. ;-) Pi would even be the same in a different universe with different physical laws, because its value isn't dependent on anything physical.

    As for every message occurring, I think you're thinking of normal numbers []. There is a conjecture that pi is normal, but it hasn't been proved. So far, statistics of the digits of pi are consistent with it being normal to as many digits as have been tested. A normal number does contain every possible message, in every possible encoding. If pi is normal, then so is e. [The proof is trivial for anyone who knows the well-known equation relating e and pi.]

    And yes, this mathematical (ab)use of the word "normal" is one of the silliest things that mathematicians have ever done. But there is a long tradition of such silly misuse of common words as mathematical terms.

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @10:03AM (#31471894)

    The month-day-year system is probably the lease sensible method of the lot.

    Not to those of us who often work with dates that often land on the next month. As a friend of mine likes to say "six of one, half dozen of the other."

    The sanest way to do it would be year-month-day...

    This gets my vote.

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cimexus (1355033) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @10:19AM (#31471954)

    Yup, yyyy-mm-dd is the ISO standard date format for a reason. You get the advantage of easier chronological sorting (ala the US system of month/day), and the unambiguity of the unit size constantly going in one direct (in this case, largest to smallest).

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun