Most digits of pi calculated - Shigeru
Kondo and Alexander Yee set world record
TOKYO, Japan -- Shigeru Kondo, a Japanese
systems engineer and Alexander J. Yee, an American
computer science student, have calculated the value of pi
to five trillion digits - setting
the new world record for the Most
digits of pi calculated.
Shigeru Kondo, a 55-year-old resident of Iida and a
company employee in Nagano Prefecture, assembled a computer
with 32 terabytes of hard-drive capacity and used an application
made by Alexander Yee, a 22-year-old student at a US graduate
school to calculate the the value of pi to five trillion digits.
"Alexander provided software and I was in
charge of hardware. We couldn't have achieved the results
without either of us," Kondo said, adding that the two men
worked together while communicating by email.
Link: more on their methodology here
Shigeru Kondo, a 55-year-old systems engineer
for a food company based in northern Japan, easily surpassed
the previous record of 2.7 trillion digits, set late last
year by a French engineer.
Pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference
to its diameter, starts with 3.14159 in a string whose digits
are believed to never repeat or end.
Ten decimal places of p are sufficient
to give the circumference of the Earth to a fraction of an
inch, and thirty decimal places would give the circumference
of the visible universe to a quantity imperceptible to the
most powerful microscope. Simon Newcomb (1835-1909)
It took 90 days to calculate pi at
Kondo's home using a desktop computer with 20 external hard
disks. It ran on the operating system Windows Server 2008R2
and used powerful Intel microprocessors; it has a hard-drive
capacity of 32 terabytes. Verification took 64 hours.
Kondo built the computer by himself, procuring
parts from local electronics shops and via the Internet. "I
don't really want to say how much it cost me as my family
may hear it... it's about 18,000 dollars," he told AFP by
The mammoth calculation nearly came
to grief on more than one occasion, Mr Kondo said, including
one morning when his daughter tripped a circuit breaker when
she turned a hair dryer on. The project was saved when the
computer switched to an emergency 10-minute back-up power
Mr Kondo was also forced to remove
casings from the computer and blow cool air onto the machine
with fans as the temperature in his home rose to 40 degrees
in the hottest Japanese summer since 1946.
It was midnight in Japan when the
computer reached five trillion decimal places. "I was alone
in the room at the moment... I know this is nothing but
self satisfaction," he said. His mother and wife who live
with him were sleeping at that time and later showed "no particular
feelings" despite his sense of achievement, he said.
The previous Guinness World Record was set
earlier this year by Fabrice Bellard, who calculated the value
of pi to 2.7 trillion digits.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010