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Renowned Japanese computer scientist and professor at the University of Tokyo, notable for his work in testing the theoretical limits of supercomputers and for parallel algorithm development--but he is best known for calculating xumpteen digits of Pi.

Born April 18, 1948, in Hyogo, Japan, Yasumasa Kanada married wife Harumi Enomoto on March 30, 1978, the same year he received his doctorate from the University of Tokyo. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Tohoku University (1973) and a master’s degree from the University of Tokyo (1975). He is the author of Story of Pi (1991) and editor of Trends in Supercomputing (1998).

Kanada began his career in 1978 as a Research Associate in the Plasma Physics department of Nagoya University (Nagoya Aichi, Japan). In 1981, he accepted a position with the Computer Center of the University of Tokyo, where he later became a full Professor of Computer Science in 1997.

In 1999, Yasumasa Kanada worked with researchers to calculate 206,158,430,000 digits of pi, landing him and his team in the Guinness Book of World Records for what could possibly be the most academic, nerdiest pursuit of all time.

Kanada and his team generated the 206 some-odd billion digits using a Hitachi SR8000 computer with 800+ gigabytes of RAM at the Information Technology Center of the University of Tokyo. The system used two major programs, a calculation routine (written by Dr. Kanada's associate, Dr. Daisuke Takahashi) and a message passing routine, written by Kanada himself. The main program was run from 18 Sept 1999 19:00:52 to 20 Sept 1999 08:21:56 (JST) to establish the record using the "Gauss-Legendre" algorithm. Several months later, the team would verify their results using "Borwein's 4th order convergent algorithm."

Kanada published several "interesting findings" on his website, including the frequency of certain number sequences (such as 01234567891), the 206,158,430,000th digit of pi (which, by the way, is 4), and the 206,158,430,000th digit of 1/pi (also 4). More of these nifty facts can be found at: http://pi2.cc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/pi_current.html

But who in the world would be satisfied with only 206 billion measly digits, when there are so many more digits to compute?

On December 6, 2002, Kanada and his team announced that they had calculated pi to 1.2411 trillion places, breaking their original record by a factor of 6. Kanada said that the project had required over 400 hours of computer time on their newer, more advanced Hitachi supercomputer (which is now capable to 2 trillion calculations per second--twice as fast as the one used in 1999).

Even more digits of pi are expected to be calculated by Yasumasa Kanada and his team in the years to come. So rest easy--you'll know the googolth digit of pi soon enough.

According to Who's Who in Science and Engineering (4th ed), when he is not performing incredible pi-related supercomputer stunts, Kanada enjoys photography and bicycling.

1. http://www.hints.org/~kanada/
2. http://www.kanadas.net/index.html
3. http://pi2.cc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/
4. http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/12/06/japan.pi.ap/index.html
5. ftp://ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext96/onepi10.txt
6. "Yasumasa Kanada." The Complete Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, 2001.

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