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Transcendental Nature of Pi

March 22, 1987

Your editorial is commendable in acknowledging the achievement of computer scientists in calculating the value of pi to more than 134 million digits. Unfortunately, your writer confused the rather simple definition of a number written in power of 10 notation with the number of digits in the number.

As any algebra student knows, 10 to the second power is 100; this power of 10 contains not 100 digits but merely three digits. Similarly, 10 to the sixth power equals 1 million; this power of 10 contains not 1 million digits but merely seven. As for your "huge" number, "10 to the 1,000th power" contains 1,001 digits. This is far short of the 134,217,700 digits in the recent expansion of pi.

In fact, your writer's query, "What digit would you find if you expanded pi to 10 to the 1000th decimal places" has been answered by the very expansion described in the editorial. It is the digit occupying the 1,000 and first decimal place in the 134,217,700 decimal places of pi now known.

If your writer had asked which digit occupies the 10 to the 134,217,701st place in the decimal expansion of pi, the recent expansion referred to would not have provided an answer.

JOE GREENBERG

Simi Valley

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