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July 4, 2005 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Very few people will ever need to learn the value of pi beyond a handful of digits, but some people are more obsessed than others. They call themselves Piphilologists, and all the pi-memorization writings you could ever possibly want have been compiled into one massive Piphilogical text file. And today, Piphilologists the world over must surely bow in tribute to Akira Haraguchi, who has just recited pi from memory to 83,431 places.
posted by Faint of Butt (22 comments total)

 
Previous interesting pi-related MeFi thread here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:49 AM on July 4, 2005


Did he learn it to 200,000 places and make a mistake? Or was he just guessing for the final 500 digits, and got lucky? Or, and this is what I suspect, is he a fraud?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:58 AM on July 4, 2005


3.142 SHIT
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:58 AM on July 4, 2005


What a waste of a life.
posted by caddis at 7:06 AM on July 4, 2005


I once knew it to 100. I once could recite all the presidents, too. I think I can still recite all the states.
What a waste of a life.
yeah... but then, what isn't? we're all gonna die anyway :)

Did he learn it to 200,000 places and make a mistake? Or was he just guessing for the final 500 digits, and got lucky?

why 200K? (or 82,931, for that matter?) I agree that the number seems kinda random, though.
posted by mdn at 7:53 AM on July 4, 2005


the number seems kinda random

Would you go to 80,000 and stop there? I will bet you that he now knows the 82,932nd digit very well.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:01 AM on July 4, 2005


I sometimes tell people I know pi up to 500 places. Then I just start naming random numbers. If I can keep from laughing long enough, some even get impressed.
posted by c13 at 8:01 AM on July 4, 2005


82931, yeah.
posted by nj_subgenius at 8:03 AM on July 4, 2005


I recommend David Blatner's "The Joy of Pi" for my fellow pi geeks.
posted by waldo at 8:51 AM on July 4, 2005


Today? Most serious piphilologists have been bowing in tribute since... ooh... Saturday.

According to this BBC article, he also had to restart after three hours because he lost his place... whoops.

/me wonders how long it takes (a) to memorize that many items, (b) to recite that many numbers, (c) for him to get a girlfriend...
posted by Chunder at 8:52 AM on July 4, 2005


The really sad story was that the guy only made it to 50K places last year, and then had to stop because the venue was closing.

2.7 1828 1828 45 90 45
posted by Aknaton at 9:25 AM on July 4, 2005


I have memorized pi to two places, then there's a bit of a gap, and the billionth digit is nine.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:29 AM on July 4, 2005


There's a quote in one of the articles about this guy that says that to calculatate the circumfrence of a circle the size of the known universe accurately, you'd only need to know pi to 30 digits.

After that, It's just stupid.
posted by blasdelf at 1:35 PM on July 4, 2005


I've heard of esoteric hobbies, but this is ridiculous!
posted by clevershark at 2:21 PM on July 4, 2005


I'm sure there's a good pick-up line in there somewhere.

"Hey baby, do you know I can tell you the value of pi up to 83,431 places?"
posted by madman at 2:22 PM on July 4, 2005


As a psychiatric counselor, how much empathy can this guy have for people who can't remember what day of the week it is?
posted by scheptech at 2:24 PM on July 4, 2005


Pi may have been calculated to 1.24 trillion decimal places, but the only thing this mammoth number is used for is testing out the supercomputers that calculate it and giving Japanese Mental Health Workers something to do on their days off..... if one were to find the circumference of a circle the size of the known universe, accurate to within the radius of one proton, only 39 decimal places of Pi would actually be necessary! - more here
posted by 0bvious at 5:24 PM on July 4, 2005


The official current record-holder, also Japanese, calculated pi from memory to 42,195 decimal places in 1995.


Wow. He calculated it to 42195 places. And calculated it from memory, no less. I don't even know what calculating from memory means.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:02 PM on July 4, 2005


One would guess that, given the vagaries of the English language, the phrase "calculated from memory" would mean he had to do all the computations in his head without the aid of pencil and paper or other ways of recording his place. The main thing about this feat is that it requires that you are accurate on every single calculation, remembering the remainder after each division by 7 (pi being the result of starting with 22 divided by 7). Such a simple equation, yet it is, as currently calculated, estimated to be infinite (or at least such that the human mind will tend to snap after trying to fathom it for too long). Don't ever, ever, ever get someone with OCD started on pi. They will simply curl up in a little ball and whimper.
posted by daq at 7:28 AM on July 5, 2005


*in a little ball*

*whimpering*
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 8:11 AM on July 5, 2005


madman: are you thinking of this?
posted by Occultatio at 10:30 AM on July 5, 2005


heh, aknaton, I have a pi and an e t-shirt (home made), myself.

After that, It's just stupid.

do you really think it's useful for calculations up to 30 digits? even serious mathematicians usually just go with 3.1416. But it's the contemplation of limit & infinity, and the poetry of randomness, that make it intriguing...

hm, the post title here ends just at the second part of the semi-palindromic part...
posted by mdn at 11:39 AM on July 5, 2005


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