Now Size does matter

Nicholas Size, a researcher at the technology firm Yahoo, has calculated the two-quadrillionth (that’s the 2,000,000,000,000,000th) digit of pi.

When expressed in binary it is, wait for it….0.

Mr Size used Yahoo’s Hadoop cloud computing technology to more than double the previous record and the computation took 23 days on 1,000 of Yahoo’s computers, the equivalent of more than 500 years of a single computer’s efforts.

The calculation made use of an approach called MapReduce, originally developed by Google, that divides up big problems into smaller sub-problems and combining answers to solve otherwise time-consuming mathematical challenges.

This is a lot different from the full calculation of all of the digits of pi, the record for which was set earlier this month at 5 trillion digits.

Each of the Hadoop computers was working on a formula that turns a complicated equation for pi into a small set of mathematical steps and returns just one, specific piece of pi.

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