# (Roughly) Daily

## Pieces of pi…

In 2010, Japanese engineer Shigeru Kondo set a record, calculating the value of pi to 5 trillion digits… then last October, he smashed his own mark, identifying the first 10 trillion decimal places.  (He used a home-made computer that ran so hot that the temperature in his apartment was over 100 degrees…)

The quest will no doubt continue– pi is an irrational number that exerts an irrational fascination.  Meantime, readers can take a peek at this work-perpetually-in-progress.  Web design firm firm Two-N has created this nifty visualization and search tool, allowing one to find any one of the first 4,000,000 digits of pi: Bonus: “50 Interesting Facts About Pi

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As we ruminate on randomness, we might send carefully-calculated birthday greetings to Hermann Minkowski; he was born on this date in 1864.  Minkowski developed the geometry of numbers and used geometrical methods to solve difficult problems in number theory and mathematical physics; he is probaly best remembered for realizing that his former student Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity (1905), presented algebraically by Einstein, could also be understood geometrically as a theory of four-dimensional space-time.  Einstein embraced the geometric approach in the development of his theory of general relativity– and the four-dimensional space (the three physical dimensions plus time) involved has since been known as “Minkowski spacetime.”

Minkowski’s best friend was “mathematical hotelier” David Hilbert. source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 22, 2012 at 1:01 am

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## Slicing the pi… source

Calculating the value of pi, the mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is a Sisyphean task– it goes on forever. And from a practical point of view, it’s silly:  resolution to just 39 digits is enough to calculate the circumference of a circle the size of the observable universe with an error no larger than the radius of a hydrogen atom.

Still, the quest continues.  As i09 reports

A pair of pi enthusiasts have calculated the largest chunk of the mathematical constant yet, reaching just over 10 trillion digits. Alexander Yee and Shigeru Kondo, respectively a computer scientist in the US and a systems engineer in Japan, fought hard-drive failures and narrowly missed widespread technical disruptions due to the Japan earthquake to break their previous Guinness world record of 5 trillion digits…

Read the whole story (well, the story-to-date) at “Epic pi quest sets 10 trillion digit record.”

As we remember that “pi aren’t square, pie are round,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1675 that Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz first used the “long S” as the symbol of the integral in calculus.  Leibnitz’s first such uses were in in private manuscripts; the first public appearance was in his paper “De Geometria,” published in (the appropriately-titled) Acta Eruditorum in June 1686. The integral of a function of x over the interval [a,b]  (source)

Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 29, 2011 at 1:01 am

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