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July 05, 2005

Memorizing pi

John Derbyshire, at the Corner at NRO, noted this article about a Japanese "psychiatric counselor" who recited pi from memory out to 83,431 places.

An old friend of mine went to high school with a kid who had more or less memorized the almanac and insisted on correcting people who rounded the data. The kid also was known for having memorized the digits of pi out to 1000 places (which I now see is child's play). He would recite -- or begin to recite -- the digits of pi at the drop of a hat, a trick that really endeared him to his high school classmates.

One day, someone said to him, "I've read that there's a guy who's memorized pi to 2000 places. Are you going to do that?" The kid responded, "Nah! That's a waste of time. Why would anyone need to know pi to 2000 places?"