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Mathematics of Computation

Published by the American Mathematical Society since 1960 (published as Mathematical Tables and other Aids to Computation 1943-1959), Mathematics of Computation is devoted to research articles of the highest quality in computational mathematics.

ISSN 1088-6842 (online) ISSN 0025-5718 (print)

The 2020 MCQ for Mathematics of Computation is 1.78.

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On the rapid computation of various polylogarithmic constants
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by David Bailey, Peter Borwein and Simon Plouffe PDF
Math. Comp. 66 (1997), 903-913 Request permission


We give algorithms for the computation of the $d$-th digit of certain transcendental numbers in various bases. These algorithms can be easily implemented (multiple precision arithmetic is not needed), require virtually no memory, and feature run times that scale nearly linearly with the order of the digit desired. They make it feasible to compute, for example, the billionth binary digit of $\log {(2)}$ or $\pi$ on a modest work station in a few hours run time. We demonstrate this technique by computing the ten billionth hexadecimal digit of $\pi$, the billionth hexadecimal digits of $\pi ^{2}, \; \log (2)$ and $\log ^{2}(2)$, and the ten billionth decimal digit of $\log (9/10)$. These calculations rest on the observation that very special types of identities exist for certain numbers like $\pi$, $\pi ^{2}$, $\log (2)$ and $\log ^{2}(2)$. These are essentially polylogarithmic ladders in an integer base. A number of these identities that we derive in this work appear to be new, for example the critical identity for $\pi$: \begin{equation*}\pi = \sum _{i=0}^{\infty }\frac {1}{16^{i}}\bigr ( \frac {4}{8i+1} - \frac {2}{8i+4} - \frac {1}{8i+5} - \frac {1}{8i+6} \bigl ).\end{equation*}
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Additional Information
  • David Bailey
  • Affiliation: NASA Ames Research Center, Mail Stop T27A-1, Moffett Field, California 94035-1000
  • MR Author ID: 29355
  • Email:
  • Peter Borwein
  • Affiliation: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
  • Email:
  • Simon Plouffe
  • Affiliation: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
  • Email:
  • Received by editor(s): October 11, 1995
  • Received by editor(s) in revised form: February 16, 1996
  • Additional Notes: Research of the second author was supported in part by NSERC of Canada.
  • © Copyright 1997 American Mathematical Society
  • Journal: Math. Comp. 66 (1997), 903-913
  • MSC (1991): Primary 11A05, 11Y16, 68Q25
  • DOI:
  • MathSciNet review: 1415794