# Pi

Calculating PI

The Internet is full of “one-liners” and if you search a bit, you can find many. A one-liner typically means (a chain of) commands that produce useful results quickly.

I came across a nice one-liner just now. The “binary calculator” or bc is a powerful UNIX tool. Calculating the value of PI with an arbitrary number of decimals (the number of decimals only restricted by the power of your OS, available RAM or internal limitations of the program) goes like this:

```   echo “scale=XXXX;4*a(1)” | bc -l
```

Where “XXXX” is the number of digits you want to calculate. Calling bc with the “-l” parameter causes bc to load it’s mathematical library. The function “a()” is the arctangent function.

Let’s say you need the value of PI with an accuracy of a thousand decimals.

```\$ echo "scale=1000;4*a(1)" | bc -l
3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307\
81640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460955058\
22317253594081284811174502841027019385211055596446229489549303819644\
28810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610\
45432664821339360726024914127372458700660631558817488152092096282925\
40917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841469519415116094330572\
70365759591953092186117381932611793105118548074462379962749567351885\
75272489122793818301194912983367336244065664308602139494639522473719\
07021798609437027705392171762931767523846748184676694051320005681271\
45263560827785771342757789609173637178721468440901224953430146549585\
37105079227968925892354201995611212902196086403441815981362977477130\
99605187072113499999983729780499510597317328160963185950244594553469\
08302642522308253344685035261931188171010003137838752886587533208381\
42061717766914730359825349042875546873115956286388235378759375195778\
18577805321712268066130019278766111959092164201988
```

Isn’t this fun? And on my old dual P2/233MHz server, this took roughly eight seconds.

Now, to compare the usefulness of the Linux platform to good old Solaris, this is what you get on Solaris 8:

```\$ echo "scale=1000;4*a(1)" | bc -l
scale factor is too large
3.14159265358979323844
```

By Eric Hameleers, or Alien BOB as he is called on various Slackware forums & channels.

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