Google employee uses cloud to break Pi world record

Clare Hopping

15 Mar, 2019

A Google employee has broken a Guinness World Record by predicting the value of Pi to an astonishing 31.4 trillion digits using Google’s Compute Engine. Emma Haruka Iwao smashed the previous world record that stood at 22 million digits.

Working out a calculation to that scale took the power of 25 virtual machines a mammoth 121 days to complete and although the announcement was made coincidentally on World Pi Day, the calculation was completed back in January.

To come up with the number, the system had to process 170 terabytes of data, which is the same amount of information held in the complete Library of Congress print collection.

The calculation was achieved using y-cruncher, a benchmark tool created by Alexander J. Yee, deployed to a Google Compute Engine virtual machine cluster. The tool was then run using the Chudnovsky’s Formula algorithm, but verified using Bellard’s formula and BBP formula.

Throughout the process, Google took disk snapshots at intervals so it could process the calculation, record it, then dispose of the data; something not possible using traditional infrastructure.

“I was very fortunate that there were Japanese world record holders that I could relate to,” Iwao said of the achievement. “I’m really happy to be one of the few women in computer science holding the record, and I hope I can show more people who want to work in the industry what’s possible.”

Anyone wanting to get their hands on the data can do so by obtaining the snapshots on Google Cloud Platform. It will cost $40 per day to keep a cloned disk, but you’ll need to be utilising the us-central1, us-west1, and us-east1 regions if you want to use it in your own calculations.

“The world of math and sciences is full of records just waiting to be broken,” Iwao said. “We had a great time calculating 31.4 trillion π digits, and look forward to sinking our teeth into other great challenges. Until then, let’s celebrate the day with fun experiments.”