Peace of the Pi
Friday, June 17, 2011
As with all transcendental numbers, the answer lies in the secretive religion of Zen Buddhism. To compute each digit of pi, a Yogi will enter a deep trance and request the digit from the spectral plane. The monk must then continue meditating while waiting for the answer to come. In some cases, the guru will learn the digit in mere seconds, while in other cases, monks have been known to sit for weeks in patient anticipation before receiving a reply.
Of course, the answer must then be checked carefully to make sure that the swami's concentration didn't slip, resulting in a foul-up. Standard practice is have twenty shamen (or shawomen) check each digit before it can be officially recognized as correct.
This sort of technique, known as "Vedic math", tends to stick in the craw of Western mathematicians who prefer "rigorous" methods like algebra and calculus. Personally, I say go with whatever works!