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Pi Recited to 100,000 Digits 335

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the three-point-one-what dept.
DiAmOnDirc writes "Akira Haraguchi, 60, needed more than 16 hours to recite the number to 100,000 decimal places, breaking his personal best of 83,431 digits set in 1995, his office said Wednesday. He made the attempt at a public hall in Kisarazu, just east of Tokyo. Haraguchi, a psychiatric counselor and business consultant in nearby Mobara city, took a break of about 5 minutes every one to two hours, going to the rest room and eating rice balls during the attempt, said Naoki Fujii, spokesman of Haraguchi's office. Fujii said all of Haraguchi's activities during the attempt, including his bathroom breaks, were videotaped for evidence that will later be sent for verification by the Guinness Book of Records."
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Pi Recited to 100,000 Digits

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  • Details (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:34PM (#16330581) Homepage Journal
    More to the point (although you could infer it from the "newsworthiness" of the story): he did it from memory. Although I'd be surprised if anyone had ever even read out 100,000 digits of Pi but, then again, I've been surprised by stupid people. Also from the article, "In 2002, University of Tokyo mathematicians, aided by a supercomputer, set the world record for figuring out pi to 1.24 trillion decimal places." So:

    a) He's got a way to go; and
    b) Sagan not proven right yet, still no circle.

    I'm guessing there's no girlfriend, either, but the only evidence I have supporting this is that, well, this guy memorized 100,000 digits of Pi. C'mon...
    • by coso (559844) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:37PM (#16330617)
      All that work and he could have just asked Weird Al.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xEzGIuY7kw [youtube.com]
    • Re:Details (Score:5, Funny)

      by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:48PM (#16330725)
      "I'm guessing there's no girlfriend, either, but the only evidence I have supporting this is that, well, this guy memorized 100,000 digits of Pi. C'mon..."

      Yeah... I just love the guy posting on Slashdot about his assumption of some other guy not having a gf because of how he spends his time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BJH (11355)
      Um, he's in his 50s, he's married, and his wife was there when he was reciting it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      More to the point (although you could infer it from the "newsworthiness" of the story): he did it from memory.

      You could "infer" it from the meaning of the word "recite". [bartleby.com]

      recite. To repeat or utter aloud (something rehearsed or memorized).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647)
      Sagan not proven right yet, still no circle.


      Technically, since Pi is infinitely long and never repeats, any finite series of digits must appear at some point. The first 100 million digits of Pi, for example, contain most every 7-digit phone number. Of course, the longer the string you want to find, the further you have to go. But that's not really a problem.
      • Re:Details (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, 2006 @02:24AM (#16333239)
        Technically, since Pi is infinitely long and never repeats, any finite series of digits must appear at some point.


        Sorry that's a non sequitur. There are series which are (a) infinitely long and (b) non-repetitive but which nevertheless do not contain any possible (finite) sequence of digits, just consider the series 1 0 11 0 111 0 1111 0 11111 - look no repetition Ma but the subsequence '1337' (for example) does not appear anywhere.
      • Re:Details (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sacrilicious (316896) on Friday October 06, 2006 @08:29AM (#16334919) Homepage
        Technically, since Pi is infinitely long and never repeats, any finite series of digits must appear at some point.

        Don't think that's true. Counter example: consider the stream of digits comprised of pi with all 7's removed. Still infinitely long and never repeating, but 7 never appears now.

    • by leuk_he (194174)
      b) Sagan not proven right yet, still no circle.

      Actually, did they analyze the result for this? analyzing pi for hidden messages is harder than just calculating it. There certainly is a cicle hidden in pi, the question is if you find it earlier than randomnees would predict.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:35PM (#16330595) Homepage Journal
    is "Transcendental Meditation".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:36PM (#16330601)
    Memorizing the digits of e is cool.
  • by sulli (195030) * on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:36PM (#16330607) Journal
    Ain't got no grills, but I still wear braces ...

    Weird Al's got nothing on this dude.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    With english/french/spanish 5.1 and DTS and will be released when Mr. Haraguchi finishes the commentary track.
  • Rice (Score:5, Funny)

    by miskatonic alumnus (668722) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:42PM (#16330679)
    ... going to the rest room and eating rice balls during the attempt

    I wonder how many digits of pi can be squeezed onto a piece of rice.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      all of them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gwwfps (912993)
      A whole ball could actually hold at least a few thousand digits if not more. In a lot of places in China (usually near tourist attractions), there are artists who write your requested messages on rice. After some googling, I could only find these two pretty bad [xinhuanet.com] photos [flickr.com]. The first seems to be not as good as most I've actually seen, the second just shows an artist working. Another one can give one a real idea of what the masters can do: 42 US presidents on rice [163.com].
  • by zymano (581466) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:43PM (#16330695)
    He's not memorizing like a regular person would.

    It's been talked about on slashdot before using some memorization technique association groups of numbers with memorable patterns.

    Don't ask me for links.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gkwok (773963)
      Poe, E.: Near a Raven [aol.com] encodes the first 740 digits of pi using word lengths as digits, while preserving the structure, story, and tone of the poem it is based on.
    • by coobird (960609) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @09:04PM (#16330879) Homepage
      He's not memorizing like a regular person would. It's been talked about on slashdot before using some memorization technique association groups of numbers with memorable patterns.

      More specifically, he memorizes the digits by making a story, probably from the sound of the numbers.

      In Japanese, you can make a play on words by the sound of the numbers called goro-awase. For example, if there is a sequence of numbers such as "3341", it can be read as "sa-mi-shi-i" which means "sad". By having a series of these play on words, he can make up a story, which is much easier to remember than a sequence of numbers.

      If you're curious, here [asahi.com] is the article (in Japanese) that mentions that the guy makes a story to memorize the digits.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by BJH (11355)
        He didn't do it this way; too ambiguous.
        He developed his own method, whereby each digit was assigned to a row of hiragana (e.g. 1 = anything from the ka line, 2 = anything from the sa-line, etc.) and built up a memorizable string of words using those sounds.

        Still means he had to memorize a 100,000 syllable story, though.
      • by kestasjk (933987)
        Exactly. What would be especially amazing is if he could quickly tell you the nth decimal of pi, with n being a random number from 1 to 100,000.
    • by Galvatron (115029) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @09:15PM (#16331021)
      One of the oldest and most venerable general-purpose mneumonic techniques is called simply The Art of Memory [wikipedia.org], which basically involves memorizing a particular path through a particular building, and then populating that mental building with objects and symbols based on whatever one is trying to remember. In an age before cheap paper and writing utensils, this was very widely used, though rarely written about, and is likely responsible for much of the West's obsession with symbolism and dual meanings (the cournicopia as a symbol of plenty, Mars and Venus representing masculinity and femininity, the whole art of heraldry, the assignment to each saint of a particular profession, etc.). Indeed, Freemasonry, that most symbolic of institutions, owed some of its broad popularity, and its shift in focus from an operative guild to a speculative fraternity, to its connection with the Art of Memory.


      I imagine that this guy was probably using a more specialized mneumonic, like the Raven poem linked to by the guy above, but as the Wikipedia link mentions, many of those who perform great feats of memory do still use this. Let's admit it though: there is no extant trick which would make memorizing 100,000 digits EASY.

    • I'm sure he uses an algorithm in his head and calculates it over and over again until he finally makes a mistake. That seems easier than memorization or remembering a story word for word.

      Has anyone recited the Bible word for word by memory?
    • Hmph. I just memorized 3.14159265358979323846 because math class was boring.
  • Of course... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mad_Rain (674268)
    Akira Haraguchi [...] a psychiatric counselor

    So I guess being able to recite pi to the 100,000 digit is just further evidence that he's crazy.
  • So how many decimal places of pi does one see in a bowl of pee? Inquiring minds want to know...
  • ...except it's not a really useful skill any more. Of course, in the earliest days of humanity when you passed down things orally it was vital, and even after we learned to write you still needed a human to have "the big picture". Indexes and search engines and hyperlinks have made that almost redundant too. Memorization today is trivia, and my computer is a helluva lot better at it than me. It could easily store all the trivia of LoC and Wikipedia combined. Unless I can get an understanding out of it, whic
    • by geekoid (135745)
      And I am sure everything you do is always really useful?

      Great, now i'm thinking of Thomas the Tank Engine, who is a really usefull engine.
      • "And I am sure everything you do is always really useful?"

        That seems an undue slap at GP. He never claimed that everything that he did was useful. He simply noted that, due to technological changes, some skills are not of much use any more. And he's right.
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @10:28PM (#16331741)
      Sure, Olympic Runners can run fast, but what is the point? Any car made in the last 100 years can go faster.

      Sure, in the days of hunting/gathering, it was a vital skill. Transportation, for me, is a means to an end, but if you have no place to go, why even bother with it at all?
    • by jandrese (485)
      That many places of pi will probably never be useful. It doesn't take that many until you're hitting the "less than one electron width of error in a circle that goes around our entire galaxy" territory.
      • by rolfwind (528248)
        Even then, margins of error in other areas will kill the precision of anything past the 100th digit....... (and I'm probably overestimating)
  • At 60! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neatfoote (951656)
    It'll probably come out sounding patronizing, but I've got to say, I'm glad it was a 60-year-old who managed this. Our culture today is far too youth-centric-- hurray for older people proving they're capable of competing with and even outperforming the whippersnappers at feats of freakish, useless intellectual wankery.
  • And I still can't even remember some of my own phone numbers!
  • by Fish (David Trout) (923462) <fish@infidels.org> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @09:02PM (#16330867) Homepage
    I'm sure we can all remember the first digit: 3, right?

    But it's all those digits (decimal places) that follows the 3 that we all have trouble remembering, right?

    So okay. Just memorize the following simple phrase:

        "I wish I could recollect pi easily today"

    The number of letters in each word are the first 8 decimal digits:

            1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5

    Thus PI is approximately: 3.14159265...

    Which should be <i>plenty</i> long enough for most calculations.

    The only hard part of course is remembering to use the word "recollect" instead of "remember". :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Watson Ladd (955755)
      How I wish I could enumerate pi easily, since all these fucking mnemonics prevent recalling any of pi's sequence more simply!
  • by Toxicgonzo (904975) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @09:31PM (#16331187)
    He made the attempt at a public hall in Kisarazu

    Did people actually go to watch this guy? What did they say to each other when he finished?

    "Hey, remember the part when he was all like 3, 5, 1, 7, 4, 4, 2, 5, 6, 6, 2, 1, 0, 4, 5, 7? That was wicked sick"
    "Yea, yea, and then he followed it up with a 4, 2, 4, 7, 3, 1, 1, 5, 2, 2, 5, 9, 0, 2, 3 and I was like ROCK ON Akira, ROCK ON"
  • I've heard people say that psychiatrists are a little bit crazy themselves.
  • Hrm, e. (Score:3, Funny)

    by eingram (633624) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @09:37PM (#16331227)
    And I thought I was cool for reciting e to 50 decimal places in calculus class last year. ownt ;\
  • Must be a slow day at Slashdot.

  • Anyone have any idea how this is possible?

    Are regular people capable of memorizing a sequence like that?

    I can't even remember what kind of pie i had for dessert last weekend. Da Dum, DING! I can't even remember why the hell I started reading this stupid Slashdot rag. haha!

  • All my best thinking gets done on the can too.
  • Obligatory (Score:2, Funny)

    by pookemon (909195)
    Mmmm pi...
  • Forget it's pi.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Starker_Kull (896770) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:20AM (#16332521)
    ...I can't imagine memorizing 100,000 ANYTHING. Most people know about 25,000 words, 1,000 or so people, etc. - there is a certain amazement at what the human mind is capable of. Can you imagine if he memorized 100,000 faces and names? 100,000 cities and populations? It is astonishing how much information we can learn...
  • ... "3.141 should be enough accuracy for anybody"
  • Fujii said all of Haraguchi's activities during the attempt, including his bathroom breaks, were videotaped for evidence that will later be sent for verification by the Guinness Book of Records..."

    ...and Youtube.
  • WHY?!?

    Has humanity sunk so low that this gets listed as an achievement?

    I mean, come on now. I'm a nerd, a geek, asocial...

    BUT DAMMIT PEOPLE! Please stop proving the jocks right.

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