On this year’s pi day, Google announced a new world record in computing most digits of pi. By computing \(\Large \lfloor \pi\times10^{13}\rfloor\) digits, Emma Haruka Iwao surpassed my record from 2016 with about 9 trillion new digits. Congratulations! Nice to see that she sticks to my idea of choosing a number of digits related to the mathematical constant pi. I’m also glad that Google’s result agrees with my computation, adding further credibility to the correctness of my computation.

Google’s cloud architecture used for the new record

The new world record of Emma Haruka Iwao is the first one that used the cloud to perform the computation. If you had to rent the same resources from Google, you would need to pay more than 200,000 USD! But this estimate is dominated by the costs of the SSD disks, which could be replaced by cheaper, conventional storage. A consequence of using a cloud service is a further decrease in the CPU utilization. While it was 22% for my computation, it dropped to only 12% for the new record. This means that only two weeks were spent on the actual computations, but more than 15 weeks on disk I/O. By using SSD disks, the main bottleneck was actually the network bandwidth and not the storage bandwidth.

With the new record, my computation has become part of the long history of computing pi. During the last two years and four months my record attracted the interest of various journals and newspapers. Probably the most exciting opportunity was to write a contribution for the Measure for Measure column of Nature Physics. The article appeared recently on March 1st and is available at www.nature.com/articles/s41567-019-0444-5. The article deals with the question, why mathematical concepts are so effective in describing the nature around us. This issue was famously raised by the physicists Eugen Wigner in 1960. In my discussion I try to argue that the creation of the nature by God is the best explanation for this observation.

Here are some of the English contributions related to my world record computation from the last two years:

π ≈ 3.141, not only now, but forever, Nature Physics, March 1, 2019.
Celebrate pi day with 9 trillion more digits than ever before, New Scientist, March 14, 2017.
Juggling with Terabytes: From Higgs Physics to the Last Known Digit of Pi, The Cylindrical Onion, March 14, 2018.
Food for Thought: The Theological Life of Pi, Christianity Today, March 14, 2018.

Furthermore, the computation was mentioned in some German media:

Schluss mit Handgelenk mal Pi, NZZ, March 14, 2017.
Die Kreiszahl π, 3sat, March 14, 2017.
Zufälle im Kreis, Weltwoche, March 13, 2019.