Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
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Pi world record calculation broken by Google employee Emma Haruka Iwao

Pi world record calculation broken by Google employee Emma Haruka Iwao

A Google employee has broken the world record for calculating Pi to the highest number of digits - at 31 trillion. It took 121 days for Google's virtual machines to reach the magic number.

Pi holds a special place in the realm of math.

Pi, for people who've been out of school for long enough to forget, is the number given when you divide a circle's circumference (length around the outside) by its diameter (length across the middle).

Iwao, a computer scientist and software engineer whose official title is cloud developer advocate, used y-cruncher, a program created by USA software developer Alexander J. Yee that has been used in many previous pi record breakings. That's when she first downloaded software to calculate pi on her PC.

Iwao says that this is the first time cloud computing has been used to calculate pi and break the record.

With this feat, Emma became the third woman to enter the Guinness World Record for calculating Pi up to large numbers.


Iwao calculated pi to 31 trillion digits (31,415,926,535,897), far outpacing the previous record of 24.6 trillion, set in 2016 by Peter Trueb.

Google made the announcement on March 14 (3.14), which is known as Pi Day. No word yet on whether she will be celebrating her achievement the American way - by eating actual pie.

"The biggest challenge with pi is that it requires a lot of storage and memory to calculate", Haruka Iwao said.

Iwao said she has been fascinated with pi since she was 12, writes Google. Using the program y-cruncher on a Google Compute Engine cluster, she ate through 170 terabytes of data over about four months. I was very fortunate that there were Japanese world record holders that I could relate to.

Emma Haruka Iwao, a developer for, used an application called y-cruncher on 25 different virtual machines to generate the number from her office in Japan. Researchers who wanted to peer into a data set that large used to have to ship physical hard drives to one another, but now they can access the company's results remotely.

Running the calculation on the cloud gives the mathematically curious a major upgrade in convenience, Google said.

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