In 1949 the world’s first general purpose computer, ENIAC, took 70 hours to find the value of Pi to 2037 digits. Ten years later, it took IBM over 704 hours to compute the value of Pi to 16,157 digits
NEW DELHI: A team of scientists from Switzerland’s University of Applied Sciences Graubünden claim they have broken the world record for calculating the value of Pi. The researchers used a supercomputer to calculate the value of Pi to 62 trillion digits, breaking previous records set by Google and Engineer Timothy Mullicon, who holds the current record for calculating Pi’s value to 50 trillion digits.
“The calculation of the new pi-digit world record by the DAViS team at the University of Applied Sciences in Graubünden took 108 days and 9 hours. It is therefore almost twice as fast as the record that Google set in its cloud in 2019, and around 3.5 times as fast as the last world record from 2020," the researchers said in a statement.
Calculating the value of Pi to greater degrees is certainly a matter of competition among computer researchers, but it also helps take computing forward. To most, the value of Pi is 3.14, but the irrational number actually goes on endlessly with random numbers after the decimal point. It is often used to develop new algorithms and test the limits of supercomputers and processors.
For instance, in 1949 the world’s first general purpose computer, ENIAC, took 70 hours to find the value of Pi to 2037 digits. Ten years later, it took IBM over 704 hours to compute the value of Pi to 16,157 digits. The company brought this time to 8 hours 43 minutes in 1961 and calculated Pi to 100,000 digits after the decimal point.
“My primary reason for attempting to break the record set by Emma Haruka Iwao/Google (March, 2019 – 31.4 trillion digits) is to test the limits of my hardware. Once I am finished breaking the Pi world record, the server and hard drives will be repurposed for STEM research (e.g., BOINC, Open Science Grid, university research projects)," wrote Mullican, the current world record holder, in a blog post in 2019.
The record by the Swiss team is yet to be validated by the Guinness Book of World Records.
According to The Register, the team in Switzerland used a computer powered by two 32-core AMD EPYC 7542 processors, which have maximum clock speeds of over 3GHz. They also used a server with 1TB of RAM and the Ubuntu Linux 20.04 operating system.