A team of Swiss researchers from Graubuenden University of Applied Sciences has broken the record for calculating the mathematical constant pi. It is now known to an incredible level of exactitude, hitting 62.8 trillion figures thanks to the work of a supercomputer.
Pi represents the ratio between the radius of a circle and its circumference. You may recognize the first 10 digits, π=3.141592653, though there is an infinite number of digits that follow that decimal point.
To write all of the digits for the new record out on A4 paper, you would need almost 35 billion sheets, equivalent to about 52 percent of the mass of the Empire State Building. Putting those pieces of paper head to toe they would extend for over 10 million kilometers (6.5 million miles).
The whole calculation took 108 days and nine hours, making it faster than both the previous world record by Google in 2019 and the 2020 record of 50 trillion digits by Timothy Mullican with the non-profit North Alabama Charitable Computing. That took about eight months to be achieved. The high-performance computer at the Center for Data Analytics, Visualization and Simulation (DAViS) has done it 3.5 times faster.
"We wanted to achieve several goals with the record attempt," said Prof. Dr Heiko Rölke, head of DAViS, in a statement. "In the course of preparing and performing the calculations, we were able to build up a lot of know-how and optimize our processes. This is now of particular benefit to our research partners, with whom we jointly carry out computationally intensive projects in data analysis and simulation. "
“The calculation showed us that we are prepared for data and computing power-intensive use in research and development. The calculation also made us aware of weak points in the infrastructure, such as insufficient back-up capacities," project manager Thomas Keller added.
High-speed calculations of pi are a technology demonstration of what the right algorithms can do and how quickly can achieve it. The new record is yet to be certified by the Guinness Book of Records and until then the researchers have only released the last 10 digits, which, if you are curious, are 7817924264.