Researchers in Switzerland broke the world record for the most accurate value of pi over the weekend, the team announced on Monday. They calculated the first 62.8 trillion digits, surpassing the former record by 12.8 trillion decimal points.
Calculation first started in late April at the Competence Center for Data Analysis, Visualization and Simulation (DAViS) at the University of Applied Sciences in Graubünden, Switzerland. The calculated data was then backed up onto the high-performance computer where a Y-cruncher wrote it into the hexadecimal notation. It was then converted into the decimal system and verified by a mathematical algorithm.
The entire process took 108 days and 9 hours, or approximately four months, to complete. This includes the 139 hours of downtime needed for backup or system maintenance, according to the methodology detailed on the university’s website. The last world record, set in Alabama in 2020, took eight months to reach.
"We wanted to achieve several goals with the record attempt," Dr. Heiko Rölke, head of DAViS, said in a press release. “In the course of preparing and performing the calculations, we were able to build up a lot of know-how and optimize our processes.”
The university’s website notes that calculating the precise number of pi is an “unofficial benchmark in high-performance computing.” Knowing the full sequence of pi is not really valuable for research purposes, but having the power to calculate it certainly is.
“The calculation showed us that we are prepared for data and computing power-intensive use in research and development,” project manager Thomas Keller said in the press release. Keller and Rölke both led the effort.
Such high-performance computing could be used for machine learning or DNA sequence analysis, according to the university. Keller noted that the calculation also pointed out key vulnerabilities in the system, such as insufficient backup capabilities.
The researchers were not immediately available to respond to a request for comment.
According to their findings, the last 10 known digits of pi are now 7817924264. The DAViS team has already registered for entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, after which the full number will be revealed.