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A Possible New Pi Record, and Why It Even Matters

Swiss researchers say they used a supercomputer to determine 62.8T places
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2021 3:40 PM CDT
A Possible New Pi Record, and Why It Even Matters
Add another 62,999,999,999,994 places...   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A human being managed to memorize the mathematical constant pi to 70,000 decimal places, a feat Rajveer Meena verified in March 2015 by reciting it out loud over the course of almost 10 hours. A supercomputer has further trounced that number, say Swiss researchers, who on Monday announced they had managed to calculate pi to 62.8 trillion places. The final 10 digits it came up with? 7817924264.

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Researchers with the Graubuenden University of Applied Sciences said it took 108 days, which it says is "3.5 times as fast as the previous world record in 2020." LiveScience reports that record, of 50 trillion places, was achieved by Timothy Mullican of Huntsville, Alabama, who used his own personal computer to do so. But we're guessing his PC isn't like yours: He's the founder of the nonprofit North Alabama Charitable Computing. AFP reports the Guinness Book of Records has not yet certified the Swiss calculation.

As for why you should care, two arguments: The first, from LiveScience, is that the feat doesn't really matter for math, but determining the value of pi "to high precision has long been used as a benchmark to test the processing power of computers." On the math front, a University of Melbourne math professor allows that knowing pi to the extreme degree doesn't really matter, but tells the Guardian that pi itself definitely does: Pi "appears everywhere, from the general relativity of Einstein to corrections in your GPS to all sorts of engineering problems involving electronics." (Read more The number Pi stories.)

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