Science 3 min read

Google Employee Discovers New Pi Digits in Honor of Pi Day

03/14/15 was lauded as Super Pi Day. However, March 14, 2019 also stands out as an important day in the Pi timeline thanks to one Google employee and her use of Google Cloud. In addition to explaining how they broke the Pi digit record, we explain different ways to celebrate Pi.

Happy Pi Day! | Mark Rademaker | Shutterstock.com

Happy Pi Day! | Mark Rademaker | Shutterstock.com

Pi Day represents a celebration of something both constant and infinite. If you’re unfamiliar with the observance, you probably know the number: 3.14.

Well, technically it’s not that simple as, theoretically, the digits in Pi could go on forever. Before today, humans had discovered 22,459,257,718,361 digits. Considering the Babylonians discovered it nearly 4,000 years ago, that’s a lot of digits y’all.

But celebrating Pi, also known as “the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter”, goes beyond rooms full of mathematicians these days.

Larry Shaw organized the first Pi Day in 1988, but the observance spawned yet more Pi related days. This includes Pi Approximation Day (July 22nd) and Two Pi Day or Tau Day (June 28th).

Controversially, some believe that Tau is actually more intuitive than Pi. Despite that dispute, people continue to celebrate Pi Day vehemently — including people at Google.

New Record for Pi Digits: More than 31 Trillion of Them

Many people have used supercomputers to calculate more and more digits of Pi.

Today, March 14, 2019 — Pi Day — Google announced that their own Emma Haruka Iwao helped to smash the world record for Pi digits. What’s more: she used Google Cloud to do it. The precise number to beat now is 31,415,926,535,897 Pi digits.

Using 25 virtual Google Cloud machines, Iwao broke the record using a y-cruncher app. The whole calculation took 121 days and needed 170 terabytes of data to finish. In the video above, Iwao explains why you need so much data storage. For reference, 170 terabytes is equal to 2,000 Blu-Ray discs.

Iwao further explains that, if the hardware fails, the entire calculation will be wrong.

Google Cloud virtual machines helped Iwao escape this issue using a unique tactic. Similar to sinkholing, when Google Cloud senses impending hardware failure, it switches to a different virtual machine. This prevents any calculation corruption, protecting the project.

More impressive than breaking the Pi record, this showcases what Google Cloud can really do.

Ways to Celebrate Pi Day for Yourself

Many retailers of pizza and pie seem to believe that it is. In fact, there are tons of retailers offering discounts or even free items to celebrate Pi Day.

For instance, you can $3.14 off a large pie at Whole Foods today. You can also get a .50 cent USD slice of pizza from 7/11, but I’d do that at your own risk. More niche offerings include discounts on pie slices at places like Cold Storage and the Little Goat Diner in Chicago, Illinois.

But Pi, one of mathematic’s most essential constant numbers, is more than just a food homophone.

There are also challenges every year levied to anyone who wants to participate on Pi Day.

You just need to recite digits in the Pi number (as many as you can). But Vihart, a YouTuber known for math related videos, explains how to “cheat the system”. She also explains why 03/14/19 might be more “Pi-like” than 03/14/15 was.

What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate Pi Day?

Read More: Celebrate Mathematics Awareness Month With These 5 Mathematicians

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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