Saturday, March 19, 2011

Computing Pi to trillions of digits

Some fellows attempted a world record for computing Pi to 5 trillion digits. The page gives a fairly detailed outline of how they achieved this feat. The detailed specifications of the hardware and software used have also been included. Contrary to my assumption, this attempt ran on a PC with server class components instead of some cluster. Although they did use software for bit error correction.

Many people think of the question "why?" when they come across a record like this. None of the current technologies require Pi to this degree of precision. These folks have answered the question of "why" like this "Because it's Pi ... and because we can".
I have often wondered how (but not why) the digits of Pi are calculated. Some of the world records boast of trillions of digits accuracy. So far the only formula I knew was one discovered by Ramanujan

This blog post attempts to shed some light on the state of the art algorithms employed for this feat.

In case you are still wondering why would one compute Pi to so many digits of accuracy. Rest assured, AFAIK there's no real use !!

This is a combined re-write of two of my buzz posts:
  1. Algorithms employed for the world record holder calculations of Pi
  2. Attempted world record for computing Pi to 5 trillion digits
Thanks to all my friends who added lots of information to my knowledge base through comments in Buzz, Facebook and Twitter.


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