Feeds

Boffin calculates pi to 2.7 trillion digits

On a humble desktop PC

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Computer scientist Fabrice Bellard says he's calculated pi to a whopping 2.7 trillion digits - a Herculean task which took a humble desktop PC 131 days.

According to the BBC, the previous record of 2.6 trillion digits was held by Daisuke Takahashi of Japan's University of Tsukuba. That number-crunching exercise took just 29 hours, albeit on a T2K Open Supercomputer "2,000 times faster and thousands of times more expensive" than Bellard's bog-standard kit which cost "less than 2000 euros".

The Beeb explains that such exercises are known as "arbitrary-precision arithmetic", or "bignum arithmetic", wherein rather large numbers are calculated to a precision of digits limited only by the computer system's available memory.

In this case, pi to 2.7 trillion digits requires "over a terabyte" of disk storage space and is so long that if you fancy reciting one number a second, you'd be done in 49,000 years.

Bellard admitted he's "not especially interested in the digits of pi" and that "arbitrary-precision arithmetic with huge numbers has little practical use", although "some of the involved algorithms are interesting to do other things".

Ivars Peterson, director of publications at the Mathematical Association of America, explained to the BBC that an exceedingly long pi did indeed serve some purpose. He said: "People have used it as a vehicle for testing algorithms and for testing computers; pi has a precise sequence of digits, it's exactly that, and if your computer isn't operating flawlessly some of those digits will be wrong.

He concluded: "It's more than just for the fun of it - pi is a way of testing a method and then the method can be used for other purposes." ®

Bootnote

Bellard says he's planning to release Linux and Windows (64 bit only) versions of the program he used to do the calculation, and here's his kit list should you wish to give it a go:

Core i7 CPU at 2.93 GHz
6 GB of RAM
7.5 TB of disk storage using five 1.5 TB hard disks (Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 model)

Bellard notes: "The Linux Operating System was used with the 64 bit Red Hat Fedora 10 distribution. The 7.5 TB disk storage was managed using software RAID-0 and the ext4 filesystem. Files of up to 2.5 TB were manipulated during the computation."

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.