Japanese man gains world record for pi calculation

Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:45pm EST
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TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - A Japanese businessman using a home-built computer has taken calculations of the mathematical concept of "pi" to the trillions of digits and won a world record for his labors.

Shigeru Kondo, a systems engineer in his 50s at a food company in the central Japanese prefecture of Nagano, in August calculated pi -- the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter -- to five trillion digits, almost doubling the accuracy of the previous world record.

Last week, the calculation was recognized by Guinness World Records with a certificate mailed to Kondo, who said he began the calculations simply as a hobby.

"I really want to praise my computer, which calculated continuously for three months without complaint," Kondo told the Chunichi Shimbun daily.

He shared the honor with a U.S. computer science student, Alexander Yee, who programed the application software and liaised with Kondo by e-mail.

Using parts from local warehouses and online stores, Kondo assembled a desktop computer that featured two high-end Intel processors and 20 external hard-drives.

After 90 days of non-stop processing, Kondo obtained a string of five trillion numbers that defined pi. He verified the result with different methods, which alone took 64 hours.

The previous record, set by a French software consultant in January 2010, was around 2.7 trillion digits.

Calculating a more accurate pi, which is believed to go on forever, has been a challenge for scholars for thousands of years, ever since the parameter was used in ancient Egypt.   Continued...