Google Employee Calculates Pi To 31.4 Trillion Digits Breaking The Guinness World Record

Emma Haruka Iwao, a Google employee from Japan who works as a developer and advocate for Google Cloud, broke the world record by calculating pi to 31.4 trillion digits. The previous record was 22.4 trillion digits long which was set by Peter Trueb in 2016. Iwao spent four months on the project with the help of the company’s cloud computing service.

The announcement, made by Google (GOOG) in a blog, came on the semi-official holiday for the unique number known as Pi Day (14 March – “3.14” in American date notation). This made her the third woman to set a world record for calculating the number which was certified by Guinness World Records on Wednesday.

With a special place in the realm of math, pi is calculated by dividing a circle’s circumference by its diameter. “Pi is useful not only for measuring circles but it also appears in calculations for everything from the period of a pendulum to the buckling force of a beam,” said mathematician Matt Parker. “Modern maths, physics, engineering, and technology could not function without pi.”

We all are familiar with the first digits, 3.14, but the number is infinitely long which can take 332,064 years just to say the 31.4 trillion digit number. And since the number follows no set pattern, extending the known sequence of digits in pi is extremely challenging. The calculation required 170TB of data and took 25 virtual machines 121 days to complete.

She did her project from Google’s office in Seattle using 25 Google Cloud virtual machines to generate the enormously long number, which is the first pi record calculated on the cloud. According to Iwao, she had help from Alexander Yee with the final calculation, who invented a program called “y-cruncher” for computing pi and other constants. One time world record holder for pi and Iwao’s former professor, Daisuke Takahashi, helped her with advice and technical strategies.

From the age of 12, Iwao has been working towards this accomplishment when she first downloaded software to calculate pi on her personal computer in Japan. “It was my childhood dream, a longtime dream, to break the world record for pi,” Iwao told CNN Business.


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