Researcher Shatters Pi Record by Finding Two-Quadrillionth Digit

Paul Lilly

How lucky is Nicholas Sze, a researcher who works for Yahoo? The dude just calculated the 2,000,000,000,000,000th digit of Pi (and then some), and will never again have to worry about coming up with a pick-up line to land the ladies. Well, that's assuming the girl he's hitting on has a serious hankering for math.

In case you're keeping track, not only did Sze break the previous record, he utterly destroyed it by more than doubling the calculation. Using Yahoo's Hadoop cloud computing technology, it took Sze 23 days on 1,000 of Yahoo's computers to set the new record. That much computing power is equivalent to over 500 years of a single computer's capability.

Sze's calculation made use of a method called MapReduce. What this Google-developed method entails is dividing up big problems into smaller sub-problems and then combining the answer to solve intractable mathematical equations.

"Interestingly, by some algebraic manipulations, [our] formula can compute Pi with some bits skipped; in other words, it allows computing specific bits of Pi," Sze explains.

Rock on.


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