Well, it’s not specifically a problem with π. But if we wanted to calculate π to a bunch of decimal places, and print them out, in most programming languages it is challenging. That is partially due to the limitations of data types. Take for example the recursive relation of French mathematician Vieta (1540-1603).

It’s easy to use this in a recursive function to calculate π to a large number of decimal places.

If we look at a C program to calculate this using a **double**, we end up with a result of the form:

Calc π = **3.14159265358979**40041763832
Actual π = 3.1415926535897932384626433832795

Not ideal, but it is calculated to the precision extent of a double.

First let’s look at the iterative version in C:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <math.h>
int main(void)
{
double prod, r;
int i;
prod = 1.0;
r = 0.0;
for (i=1; i<=10; i=i+1) {
r = sqrt(2.0 + r);
prod = prod * (0.5*r);
}
printf("pi is approximately %.25lf\n", 2.0/prod);
return 0;
}

It’s easy to use this in a recursive function to calculate π as well:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <math.h>
double recursivePI(int n, double r)
{
double ra;
if (n == 1)
return sqrt(2.0 + r) * 0.5;
else {
ra = sqrt(2.0 + r);
return (ra * 0.5) * recursivePI(n-1,ra);
}
}
int main(void)
{
double prod, r;
r = 0.0;
prod = recursivePI(50,r);
printf("pi is approximately %.25lf\n", 2.0/prod);
return 0;
}

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