A Google engineer from Japan has broken the Guinness World Record for the
Emma Haruka Iwao, who has been with Google for more than three years, used the company’s cloud-computing service to calculate pi to an astronomical 31.4 trillion digits, beating Peter Trueb’s record of 9 trillion in November 2016.
Aptly, Iwao’s accomplishment was announced on March 14, which happens to be Pi Day. The feat also marks the first time the record was broken using the cloud.
“Ever since the ancient Babylonians, people have been calculating the digits of π, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter that starts as 3.1415… and goes on forever,” the engineer wrote in a post. “In honor of Pi Day, today March 14 (represented as 3/14 in many parts of the world), we’re excited to announce that we successfully computed π to 31.4 trillion decimal places — 31,415,926,535,897 to be exact, or π * 1013.”
The calculation required the use of a program called y-cruncher, which was developed by Alexander J. Yee using a Google Compute Engine virtual machine cluster.
For 121 days, Iwao crunched 170 terabytes of data using 25 virtual machines to complete the calculation. For context, one terabyte is equivalent to some 200,000 music tracks, according to BBC News.
Aside from a gargantuan storage space, the process required no room for error as one mistake could ruin the final calculation.
Despite her mind-blowing achievement, Iwao is not sleeping on pi yet. “There is no end with pi, I would love to try with more digits,” she told BBC News.
Iwao also expressed her hopes of helping other mathematicians who are also interested in cracking pi.
“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,” she told CBS News.