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A Cloud Computing Milestone: Yahoo! Reaches the 2 Quadrillionth Bit of Pi


A Yahoo! engineer has reached a new cloud computing milestone. Using Hadoop, Yahoo! cloud computing engineer, Tsz Wo (Nicholas) Sze has determined the computation of ? (pi) to the two quadrillionth decimal. And it equals zero. It’s the most amount of bits ever calculated for pi.

This is a remarkable achievement and shows the power of distributed systems for crunching big data.

It’s also an example of how data is changing our infrastructure as we discover new ways to develop applications with greater computational capabilities.

Let’s put this in perspective.

As Yahoo! points out, pi is a mathematical constant that is used to calculate the area of a circle.

Sze’s discovery follows a long line of mathematicians who have sought a bigger piece of the pi, no pun intended of course. This effort took some significant firepower and Hadoop magic:

“The circumference of the visible universe can be calculated using a mere 39 or 40 decimal places, so what are Yahoos like Nicholas doing out at those outer reaches? For Nicholas, this was a project ideally suited to flex the muscles of Hadoop, the open source technology at the epicenter of big data and cloud computing. The computation took 23 full days and required 1000 different machines using Hadoop.”

The achievement shows the power of distributed systems and points to how Yahoo! has adapted its business to the research it has done using Hadoop.

Yahoo is one of the pioneers in using Hadoop. It has helped the company better define the context of its network and the personal preferences of the millions of people use Yahoo! every day.

What that means for Yahoo! is a better understanding of how to use the computational powers of cloud computing. It provides the opportunity to do all sorts of things. Yahoo! engineers, for instance, are learning how to speed up calculations and algorithms. That faster crunch time? Think of one of the world’s largest networks doing mathematics equations and you have something that equates to a whole new experience. It goes beyond new ways to find new songs or predict the price of apples in the commodity exchange.

Instead, this points to the entrance of a new world where our culture meets the power of big data. A society that is driven more by information than machine.

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