Google employee calculates pi to more than 31.4 trillion digits

Between September and January, developer advocate Emma Haruka Iwao ran a computation of Pi to 31.4 trillion decimal places.

The accomplishment, announced on the day known as "Pi Day" as the first three digits of pi are 3.14, was realized by using Google Cloud infrastructure, the tech giant said.

For Iwao and her team, she expressed appreciation for teachers and previous record holders who helped her reach this extraordinary milestone: "I was very fortunate that there were Japanese world record holders that I could relate to".

Cloud computing services store and manage customers' software and data online. In the past, the longest known version of pi was so big you'd actually need a hard drive to transfer it from one computer to another. The calculation required 170TB of data (for comparison, 200,000 music tracks take up 1TB) and took 25 virtual machines 121 days to complete.

But, she says, it'll come in handy for anyone studying the features of pi to better understand the number through statistical analysis. For those who don't remember pi is basically the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. But even if you don't work for Google, you can apply for various scholarships and programs to access computing resources.

If you'd like to participate in the Pi Day fun, there's a Google Cloud Showcase Pi Day art-maker up for the tapping right this minute. The value is used in mathematical equations for circles, cylinders and waves.

But when Iwao broke the record herself, she didn't use a supercomputer.

Pi is an infinite number essential to engineering.

Typically, such calculations have been done on a single machine or "virtual machine" because of the difficulty for passing information back and forth over the network when using multiple machines working together. Earlier, Pi was calculated to 22 trillion points.

Vanessa Coleman

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