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Pi world record calculation broken by Google employee Emma Haruka Iwao

14 March 2019

This experiment consumed 170 terabytes of data and took nearly four months to complete.

Iwao, a computer scientist and software engineer whose official title is cloud developer advocate, used y-cruncher, a program created by US software developer Alexander J. Yee that has been used in many previous pi record breakings. This is nearly 9 trillion digits more than the previous world record, which was set in November 2016 by Peter Trueb.

She ran her calculations over Google's cloud service, marking another world-first.

An advocate who helps developers use cloud products, Iwao used more than two dozen virtual machines to churn away at the calculation, which took about 121 days to complete. It's an irrational number that continues infinitely without repetition.

Pi, which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, is commonly recognized for its first few digits, but the numbers go on until infinity. The semi-official holiday for the unique number is celebrated by eating actual pies. Iwao said in the announcement that's she's been fascinated with pi since she was 12- and never imagined breaking the Guinness World Record.

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"The biggest challenge with pi is that it requires a lot of storage and memory to calculate", Haruka Iwao said.

This calculation was made thanks to the Pi-benchmark program developed by Alexander J. Yee, called y-cruncher. "At the time, the world record holders were Yasumasa Kanada and Daisuke Takahashi, who are Japanese, so it was really relatable for me growing up in Japan". "But now that it's been calculated with the cloud, the sky's the limit", a Google spokesperson said.

Beyond being a convenient way to promote Google's own cloud products, Iwao's record shows how far cloud computing technology has come.

She calculated it to 31,415,926,535,897 digits, which also happens to be the value of pi - 3.1415926535897.

"In terms of how long this record might stand, we can't predict the future".

Pi world record calculation broken by Google employee Emma Haruka Iwao