And the number is...0
A researcher from Yahoo, Nicholas Sze, announced this week that he has determined the two-quadrillionth - thats 2,000,000,000,000,000th - digit of Pi.
The feat was achieved using 1,000 of company's cloud servers running Apache Hadoop software and took 23 days to complete.
This is the highest digit of Pi that has ever been calculated, but is unfortunately only a very small piece of the puzzle. The calculation used the MapReduce algorithm, which only works on a very small part of the number. This means that, while the two quadrillionth number is known, the vast majority of the digits before it are not.
The current record for the complete value of Pi was reached in January by Fabrice Bellard, who calculated the first 2.7 trillion digits of the number.
According to an interview with the BBC, the exercise was primarily aimed to show the power of the Hardoop framework. As a result of the way MapReduce is able to break the calculation apart, it is very well suited to a distributed environment.
Apparently, this process of subdividing very large, very complex problems into smaller pieces that ‘skip' certain bits is especially useful in the fields of cryptography, physics and data-mining. It can also find uses in benchmarking and determining performance across multiple clusters in a distributed environment.
For those who are interested, the two-quadrillionth digit of Pi is 0.