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Search for your name in pi!

News Flash! Now searching 31,415,929 digits!! Tell your friends!

Enter your name here:

Your chances: 3 or fewer letters: about 100% 7 or more letters: about 0%.

How can my name be in pi?

I converted pi to base 27 (if you don't know what that means, read the section What does base 27 mean below). I took the digits to represent letters, according to 1=A, 2=B, and so on. The digit 0 is punctuation.

In this way, the expansion of pi looks like a long string of letters (with occasional punctuation), namely

pi = C.CVEZ... = C + C
+ V
+ E
+ Z
+ ...
where A=1, B=2, C=3,..., Z=26.

How many digits of pi do you have?

I started with over 1,000,000 digits in base 27. This represents the same accuracy as 1,500,000 decimal digits. If that sounds like a lot, it still only gave an 82% chance of finding a given 4 letter name! If your name has 5 letters, the chances were only about 7.2%!

Now I have over 30 million digits in base 27, so a five letter name has an almost 90% chance of being found! Perhaps I'll push it up even further soon.

Why did you choose base 27 and not 26?

Base 27 is the neatest way which allows me to represent the digit 1 as A, 2 as B, ..., and 26 as Z. With Base 26, I would have to use A=0, B=1, etc... or A=1, B=2, ..., Y=25, Z=0. I think my system is the prettiest. If you don't like it, you can always set up your own search page... :-)

How did you get the digits?

When I first made this page, in the mid-late 1990's, I downloaded a program from a website. The website was in Japanese, so I don't know much about it. The program used a very efficient algorithm to calculate decimal digits of pi. I changed the program a little bit so that it would calculate in base 27. It took 3 days to calculate the 1,048,400 digits. To calculate the 16,000,000 I hope to obtain on the computer I was using at the time would have taken over 2 months! In July 2005 I raised the number of digits to 31,415,929, using a program called APFLOAT. I started it running at 4pm, and by a bit past 9pm it was done!

Why did you do it?

Do I need a reason?? :-)

Interesting pi facts

Here are some interesting features of this way to represent pi.

What does "base 27" mean?

Most people know that pi, the ratio of a the distance around a circle to the distance across, is 3.14159... This actually means that
pi = 3 + 1
+ 4
+ 1
+ 5
+ 9
+ ...
Because the number "10" keeps appearing in the denominator, we say this is pi in "base 10". It is also why we have 10 different digits.

There is no reason why we have to use 10, however. The ancient Babylonians used 60 different digits! Even today, computer scientists sometimes use base 16 (with 16 digits 0 to 9 and A to F), base 8 (with digits 0 to 7) or even base 2 (with only two digits 0 and 1!).

If we were using base 16, we would say pi was 3.243F6..., meaning

pi = 3 + 2
+ 4
+ 3
+ 15
+ 6
+ ...
here, the "F" represents the "digit" 15. In base 16, there are 16 digits, usually represented as 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,C,D,E and F.

I wanted people to be able to look for their name in pi. The alphabet has 26 letters, and it would be nice if A was 1, B was 2, C was 3 and so on. But there has to be a zero digit! So I decided to work out pi in "base 27", with the 27 digits 0,A,B,C,...,Y and Z.

That's how your name can be in pi!