French scientist calculates Pi to record number of digits

January 12, 2010

A French computer scientist claims to have calculated Pi to nearly 2.7 trillion decimal places, a new record made even more impressive because he did it on a personal computer.  

Fabrice Bellard beat the previous record by 100 billion digits on a desktop computer which ran for 131 days to complete and check the result. The number is so long that if each digit was spoken a second at a time it would take nearly 85,000 years to finish the number.  
In order to calculate the number, Mr. Bellard developed his own software algorithm which he claims is 20 times more efficient than previous calculations. The prior record of about 2.6 trillion digits, set in August 2009 by Daisuke Takahashi at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, took just 29 hours.
However, that work employed a supercomputer 2,000 times faster and thousands of times more expensive than the desktop Mr. Bellard used.
“I got my first book about Pi when I was 14 and since then, I have followed the progress of the various computation records,” Mr. Bellard, of Paris Telecom Tech said.
“I am not especially interested in the digits of Pi,” he said. “It's more than just for the fun of it – Pi is a way of testing a method “
The competition to pin down the exact value of Pi, whose value is the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter, has raged since Sir Isaac Newton's time.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)