See all NewsEngineering News

McCormick Grad Sets New Pi Record

Most people know pi as 3.14. Some can go a few more decimal points beyond.

Alexander Yee can go way beyond that — five trillion numbers beyond that. Yee, who just graduated from McCormick with a computer science degree, and Japanese systems engineering Shigeru Kondo, calculated pi to five trillion decimal places — a new world record.

Pi is the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter and is considered one of the most important mathematical constants. As a number, it never ends or repeats, and calculating it further, while having no real use, has become a unique challenge for mathematically minded.

According to the article, Kondo built a computer specifically for calculating pi. Yee provided the software. It took 90 days to calculate and 64 hours to verify. The previous record is 2.7 trillion decimal places.

In 2007, Yee broke a world record by calculating the Euler-Mascheroni constant to more than 116 million digits. That took him 38 hours of computation and 48 hours of verification.

“I just stood there in disbelief,” he said at the time. “Finally I picked up the phone to call my dad and told him that I had done it.”