Pi world record, check out the deals to be had on National Pi Day.
Talk about perfect timing — a Google engineer revealed that she broke the world record for calculating pi on National Pi Day.
Thursday’s date, March 14 (or 3.14), matches the first three digits that most people use to refer to pi. (As you likely learned back in high school geometry, pi is an infinite number that represents the ratio of the circumference of circle.)
Mathematicians and scientists are forever trying to calculate more and more digits of pi, and Google’s GOOG, -0.65% Emma Haruka Iwao spent about four months, or 121 days, computing the most accurate value of pi, ever, by using the Google Compute Engine on the Google Cloud — running up to 31,415,926,535,897 digits, or a symbolic 31.4 trillion, which is almost 9 million digits more than the previous world record set in 2016 by Swiss particle physicist Peter Trueb.
Using Google’s Cloud (she’s a cloud developer advocate, as well) was another first, but it makes a lot of sense: It took 170 terabytes of data to complete this task, which is roughly equivalent to all of the information stored in the Library of Congress’s print collections.
“The biggest challenge with pi is that it requires a lot of storage and memory to calculate,” Iwao, 34, from Okinawa, Japan, explained in a Google blog post. So using a Google program called y-cruncher across 25 Google Cloud virtual machines allowed this massive four-month calculation to run without interruptions or crashes, which would have disrupted the calculation.
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Iwao’s pi in the sky dream began when she was 12.
“Pi seems simple — it starts with 3.14,” she said. “When I was a kid, I downloaded a program to calculate pi on my computer. 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.”
And because all this data is stored in the cloud, Iwao and Google are sharing this accomplishment by letting people download the computed sequence as disk snapshots. You’ll have to join the pi-31415926535897 Google Group to gain access, and pay about $40 per day to keep the cloned disk. Click the link above for more details.
“They’re available to anyone who wants to access them,” according to the blog post. “This means anyone can copy the snapshots, work on the results and use the computation resources in less than an hour. Without the cloud, the only way someone could access such a large dataset would be to ship physical hard drives.”
Iwao wants to make sure people everywhere get a slice of the education and resources that she’s tapped to reach her mathematical achievement — and to stand as an inspiration for women and people of color in STEM fields.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t have access to supercomputers. But even if you don’t work for Google, you can apply for various scholarships and programs to access computing resources,” she said. “I was very fortunate that there were Japanese world record holders that I could relate to. I’m really happy to be one of the few women in computer science holding the record, and I hope I can show more people who want to work in the industry what’s possible.”
And #NationalPiDay has plenty of brands besides Google geeking out, as well. Whole Foods is slicing $3.14 of the price of every one of its large bakery pies on Thursday. California Pizza Kitchen is dishing slices of its Key Lime Pie for $3.14 (pre-tax.) If you buy one chicken pot pie and a drink at Boston Market, you get another pot pie free. Stop & Shop supermarkets are also selling eight-inch pumpkin, apple or Dutch apple pies for $3.14 on Thursday.