SALEM, Va. – A high school student on Tuesday recited 8,784 digits of pi — the non-repeating and non-terminating decimal — likely placing him among the top pi-reciters in the world.
Gaurav Rajav, 15, had hoped to recite 10,790 digits and set a new record in the United States and North America. But he remembered enough to potentially place third in national and North American pi recitation and 12th in the world.
His ranking should be verified by the Pi World Ranking List within two months.
"I'm kind of disappointed, but I guess I did OK," said Gaurav, a junior at Salem High School.
But his mathematical feat won the praise of others, including the math and computer science teacher who got Gaurav interested in it.
"I'm still stunned," said Linda Gooding, one of three contest judges. She then joked, "That's a couple more than I can do."
[Tuesday, March 14, was "Pi Day," since "3/14" is the closest the calendar comes to pi's value of 3.14159 and then some. Pi, usually written as the Greek letter π, is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Although it has an infinite number of digits following no particular pattern, it is considered a real number and is useful in mathematics, engineering and physics.]
Gaurav began memorizing pi while a student in Gooding's class. Gooding holds the competition every year, and said she expected students to learn about 40 digits. Gaurav recited nearly 2,990 the first time.
Gaurav's parents promised him an Xbox 360 video game console if he had reached his goal. His father, Jogesh Rajav, jokingly offered to get him "an Xbox, but no game."
But Gaurav ultimately turned town his mother Seema's offer to buy him the game system anyway because of their deal.
He will try for the record again in May.