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Math Science Hardware

5 Trillion Digits of Pi — a New World Record 299

Posted by timothy
from the obsessions-unleashed dept.
KPexEA writes "Alexander J. Yee & Shigeru Kondo claim to have calculated the number pi to 5 trillion places, on a single desktop and in record time. The main computation took 90 days on Shigeru Kondo's desktop. Verification was done using two separate computers. The program that was used for the main computation is y-cruncher v0.5.4.9138 Alpha." Looks like the chart of computer-era approximations of Pi here might need an update.
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5 Trillion Digits of Pi — a New World Record

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  • by TheRon6 (929989) on Friday August 06, 2010 @05:16AM (#33159068)
    If there's ever a robot uprising, I bet it's going to be started by us making them do stuff like this.
  • You know the KGB commercials? I'd find it funny if someone were to ask them what the 5 trillionth and one decimal digit of Pi is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @05:24AM (#33159100)

    I've heard that in the book (not movie) "Contact" that when Jodie Foster's character meets the uber-aliens she asks them:

    "Do you believe in God?"
    -"Yes"
    Taken aback "Really, why?"
    -"We have proof, when PI is expended out to (some number), there is a message"...

    I really wish I read the book to know what the message is (maybe "Nietsche is dead"?)

    I no longer login because I feel that while attacking a company's products is fair game (specifically Apple), having stories singling out their users as "selfish" and unkind is not "news for nerds stuff that matters". Am I an Apple fanboi? Let's just say I've used NIX for decades (yes I'm old) and I'm not talking OS X.

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday August 06, 2010 @05:56AM (#33159242) Homepage Journal

      The aliens are vague about the location of the message (it might be in pi) so the Foster character runs software to search for it. Right at the end of the book her program finds a pattern (A circle drawn in 1s and 0s in an 11 by 11 matrix). This pulls together the thread in the book about belief in god vs religion. It turns out that somebody made the universe after all, and the Christians had been (sort of) right all along, though the scientists were right to demand evidence.

      I love both the book and film. Thats unusual for me. The Postman was a fantastic book. Don't get me started on the movie.

      I often put the DVD of Contact on just to watch the sequence where Fosters character first hears the signal and her crew reconfigure the telescope to analyse it. Its a classic tech scene.

      "Once upon a time I was a hell of an engineer"

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Right at the end of the book her program finds a pattern (A circle drawn in 1s and 0s in an 11 by 11 matrix).

        Wait, so the message from God is a circle? I find this one a little more convincing:

        http://dresdencodak.com/2009/07/12/fabulous-prizes/ [dresdencodak.com]

      • by Lisandro (799651)
        Much agreed. I like the book a lot better than the movie (the characterizations are superb), but its perhaps one of the best big screen adaptations i've seen, and a gripping sci-fi movie for people who usually don't enjoy sci-fi.
      • I always found that concept, encoding a message in pi, to be staggeringly stupid. The value of pi doesn't depend on physics, which is why we are able to determine it algorithmically rather than experimentally. (Some people argue 'but pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and that depends on physics'. Yes, that ratio depends on physics, for physical circles, provided that some other physical geometry besides 'flat' is possible. But a non-flat geometry would just mean that the

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MichaelSmith (789609)

          But maybe that just demonstrates the limits of our thinking. We re used to the parameters of our universe and have trouble imagining how things could be different.

          • But maybe that just demonstrates the limits of our thinking. We re used to the parameters of our universe and have trouble imagining how things could be different.

            Of course there are many, many, marvelous things that are beyond our imagination. But the abstraction pi can be understood to be what it is, within the framework that defines it. This isn't affected by those other unknown things. If there were a 'different' pi that could be conceived of in some other realm, it would have other properties and relationships, and could be given a different name to distinguish it from the one we work with. It is not physical, is not measured, is not a 'parameter of our univ

        • by tibit (1762298)

          I think that it's one of those big things that we just don't quite can wrap our minds around. What does it mean that there's a certain structure and properties to geometries, that topology of things looks just like so and not some other way, etc? Do those things depend at all on the universe we live in? Would, somehow, someone in another universe find, that PI has a different value even though it's not a physical constant as far as we can tell? And maybe we're just mistaken and it is really a physical const

          • I think that it's one of those big things that we just don't quite can wrap our minds around.

            OK. Speak for yourself.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by tibit (1762298)

              I'm serious. How would you even start an argument about PI not being a physical constant? It's really just a matter of definition, and in that sense there's no argument.

              But we say that physical constants are some things we measure, and other seemingly fundamental things we can measure are not (like PI). PI can be of course measured to a good few digits by manufacturing a sphere or a disk/cylinder, and then measuring the circumference and radius. We then also have mathematical theories that can come up with

      • The aliens are vague about the location of the message (it might be in pi) so the Foster character runs software to search for it. Right at the end of the book her program finds a pattern (A circle drawn in 1s and 0s in an 11 by 11 matrix). This pulls together the thread in the book about belief in god vs religion. It turns out that somebody made the universe after all, and the Christians had been (sort of) right all along, though the scientists were right to demand evidence.

        If you're given a free hand at the decryption code, you can find any message you want. Presumably the infinite non-repeating sequence of digits is full of marvelous patterns when displayed on a grid as well.

        Maybe *every* pattern on every grid size, but I'm not sure of that. (The digits aren't actually independent random numbers.)

        It's just a matter of time until some charlatan claims to find a message in our DNA. In a society that can't grok what's the deal with The Bible Codes, people will believe him.

        • by ATestR (1060586)

          If you're given a free hand at the decryption code, you can find any message you want... Maybe *every* pattern on every grid size"

          Yes, given infinite digits, every pattern would appear eventually. However, the point that was made in the book was that the probability of a particular pattern appearing is vanishingly small. In the book Contact, the embedded circle of 1's in and 11 x 11 grid appeared after a LONG (>10^6) sequence of just 0's... and followed by one too. Then PI continued as always. As

      • The problem is, if you look long enough, hard enough, any message you can think of will appear in pi. Put it in Base 26 and you'll eventually find the complete works of Shakespeare (it might be 10^10^10^10 digits down, but it will be there). I was kind of disappointing in the book that Sagan didn't at least discuss the probability of finding something that appears significant by the time they reached the depth they were at.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @06:22AM (#33159330)

      I no longer login because I was modded down to terrible karma when I tried to stand up for one of Apple's gay products, and subsequently bragged about performing fellatio on Steve Jobs. People thought I was trolling but actually I was telling the truth.. Am I an Apple fanboi? Yes Indeed.

      FTFY.

    • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday August 06, 2010 @07:00AM (#33159454)

      "Taken aback "Really, why?"
      -"We have proof, when PI is expended out to (some number), there is a message"..."

      Duh.

      http://everything2.com/title/Converting+Pi+to+binary%253A+Don%2527t+do+it%2521 [everything2.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by maxwell demon (590494)

        Actually, it's quite safe to calculate Pi in binary, if you do enough of it. After all, somewhere in it you'll find a message from each copyright owner, signed with his secret key, that you are allowed to have a copy of the copyrighted work. Moreover, you'll have documents about everyone on earth which reveal facts they rather would not like to be published. So actually having enough digits of Pi in binary gives you near-absolute power! That's why THEY want to scare you away from calculating Pi in binary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gordonjcp (186804)

      "We have proof, when PI is expended out to (some number), there is a message"

      "Five trillion digits ought to be enough for anybody - God"

    • "We have proof, when PI is expended out to (some number), there is a message"...

      Of course, pi is normal [wikipedia.org] in binary. Every possible message will occur eventually. So if we expand pi far enough, we might even find a positive review for Carrot Top's act. Turns out that math can be wrong.

  • Wow. (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by dtmos (447842) *

    A tour de force of math and computing hardware and software skills.

    Makes me want to turn in my geek card.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They just took the number 3.14159 and added a load of random digits to the end - let's face it, nobody's going to check!

    • Re:Obviously a fraud (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fotoguzzi (230256) on Friday August 06, 2010 @06:47AM (#33159408)

      They just took the number 3.14159 and added a load of random digits to the end - let's face it, nobody's going to check!

      Reminds me of the MAX light rail station in the zoo tunnel in Portland, Oregon. Apparently there is the first 100 (1000?) digits of pi chiseled into one of the walls. A writer noticed that the first digits were correct, but quickly went astray. But later in the sequence, there was a recognizable early string of digits. The writer sleuthed that the sculptor had used the Book of Pi, which has the numbers in blocks of ten digits in five (or so) columns. In the book, you read the first row and then the next row.* The sculptor had read the first column, then the next column...

      * or the other way around

  • ... how many digits someone will calculate Pi too each year.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Buggz (1187173)
      Moore's Law v2: the number of digits PI is calculated to will double every 18 months.
  • But I am legitimately curious what is the real significance of learning Pi to a more accurate measurement? I'm not a mathematician, physicist, or computer scientist.
    • by ledow (319597)

      Not a lot. Except to prove that your supercomputer is reliable when calculating numbers like that, and how fast it can do it. Usually, I think it's just used as a test of the computer's abilities rather than anything serious.

      Even in the precision engineering world, more than about 10 digits of accuracy for pi is a bit silly. Pi will never really, practically, be required in more depth than what your processor's registers can hold.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord Lode (1290856)

      Hmm, I can think of an interesting and useful use of it: doing various statistics and randomness tests on those digits, finding patterns in their order, and so on.

      But I don't suppose that's what those contests to find the most PI digits are about.

    • by quenda (644621) on Friday August 06, 2010 @05:48AM (#33159198)

      what is the real significance of learning Pi to a more accurate measurement?

      The same as the damage a bulldozer would suffer if it were allowed to run over you.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      There are a number of people that assert some meaning will be found in such natural numbers. It's one of the most basic ratios in existence, and more than one piece of fiction has asserted that meaning will be found in the digits. Such things add a curiosity to the number - will it ever end or ever repeat? could there be a message coded in it? But mainly it's a convenient computational benchmark.
  • Trillion? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Friday August 06, 2010 @05:43AM (#33159170)

    Trillion in which language? How many zeros does it have?

    • Re:Trillion? (Score:4, Informative)

      by LingNoi (1066278) on Friday August 06, 2010 @05:45AM (#33159180)

      This page has more details [numberworld.org], what I find interesting is that he needed 96.0 GB of ram to do the number crunching.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They're calculating Pi in base 10, which is the wrong path.

    Pi should be calculated in base 3.141593...

    It's a paradox, people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gringer (252588)

      Pi should be calculated in base 3.141593...

      You're out on the 6th decimal digit (unless you're going to stop there). Pi is greater than 3.1415926 and less than 3.1415927.

      Have I been trolled?

    • No, it's not. Your answer is 10.

  • by jez9999 (618189)

    When I read the title, I thought someone had successfully memorized 5 trillion digits of Pi. They just computed it? What a letdown.

  • 5 trillion digits are a *lot* of digits! no patterns yet in there?

  • Just to be sure, have the sent the digits to the SETI program looking for patterns? There is some talk that beyond some 2 or 3 billion digits there is a message that apparently begins, "O Brhama, I have created Thee to build the universe, You shall create the universe in accordance to these Laws called Vedas...."
  • Hmm, I'm not I like this. Has anybody considered the security impact of this? Pi being a proper irrational number is bound to have, as substrings of digits in it's decimal representation, all possible combinations of characters represented as eg. UTF-8, so somebody could easily find all passwords currently in use in there, lined up alphabetically. Somebody clearly hasn't thought this through.

  • Yeah, it's not March 14th but for the occasion it seems fitting:

    It's a Wonderful Day for Pi [youtube.com]

    Pi - full version [youtube.com] / just the numbers [youtube.com]

    .
  • So, is it still between 3.14 and 3.15?

  • pi is Wrong (Score:2, Informative)

    by theritz (1116521)
    http://tauday.com/ [tauday.com] I endorse the views expressed in above piece.
  • But, my teacher said Pi is 22/7. Surely that's close enough.
  • Direct link to the hardware (with photos)! [numberworld.org]

    Also, anyone else also notice the partially cropped off friend, it's not Clippy [wikipedia.org], on the final result screenshot?
  • Alexander J. Yee & Shigeru Kondo claim to have calculated the number pi to 5 trillion places, on a single desktop and in record time. The main computation took 90 days on Shigeru Kondo's desktop

    How big was this desk, and what was sitting on its top that was doing the actual calculation? It's odd to simply refer to a piece of furniture as doing the calculation.

  • The "world's fastest laser printer" prints about 60 ppm. At one page a second, 10,000 digits per page, it would take 500 million seconds or fifteen years to print it out. So one might hope to live to see all the known digits of pi printed out... unless those pesky computer scientists calculate more of them. But, really, 5 trillion digits ought to be enough for anybody.

    And it would only require a million reams of paper.

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