Australian researchers have done the impossible — they’ve found the sixty-trillionth binary digit of Pi-squared! The calculation would have taken a single computer processor unit (CPU) 1,500 years to calculate, but scientists from IBM and the University of Newcastle managed to complete this work in just a few months on IBM’s “BlueGene/P” supercomputer, which is designed to run continuously at one quadrillion calculations per second.
Their work was based on a mathematical formula discovered a decade ago in part by the Department of Energy’s David H. Bailey, the Chief Technologist of the Computational Research Department at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Australian team took Bailey’s program, which ran on a single PC processor, and made it run faster and in parallel on thousands of independent processors.
“What is interesting in these computations is that until just a few years ago, it was widely believed that such mathematical objects were forever beyond the reach of human reasoning or machine computation,” Bailey said.
“Once again we see the utter futility in placing limits on human ingenuity and technology.”