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binary RISKS

06/04/2001

A classic RISKS digest item. Why it's a bad idea to convert pi to binary.

Newsgroup: alt.math.recreational

WARNING: Do NOT calculate Pi in binary. It is conjectured that this
number is normal, meaning that it contains ALL finite bit strings.

If you compute it, you will be guilty of:

* Copyright infringement (of all books, all short stories, all
newspapers, all magazines, all web sites, all music, all movies,
and all software, including the complete Windows source code)
* Trademark infringement
* Possession of child pornography
* Espionage (unauthorized possession of top secret information)
* Possession of DVD-cracking software
* Possession of threats to the President
* Possession of everyone's SSN, everyone's credit card numbers,
everyone's PIN numbers, everyone's unlisted phone numbers, and
everyone's passwords
* Defaming Islam. Not technically illegal, but you'll have to go
into hiding along with Salman Rushdie.
* Defaming Scientology. Which IS illegal -- just ask Keith Henson.

Also, your computer will contain all of the nastiest known computer
viruses. In fact, all of the nastiest POSSIBLE computer viruses.

Some of the files on my PC are intensely personal, and I for one
don't want you snooping through a copy of them.

You might get away with computing just a few digits, but why risk it?
There's no telling how far into Pi you can go without finding the secret
documents about the JFK assassination, a photograph of your neighbor's six
year old daughter doing the nasty with the family dog, or a complete copy of
the not-yet-released Pearl Harbor movie. So just don't do it.

The same warning applies to e, the square root of 2, Euler's constant, Phi,
the cosine of any non-zero algebraic number, and the vast majority of all
other real numbers.

There's a reason why these numbers are always computed and shown in decimal,
after all.


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