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SCHOOL

Swiss schoolkids are Europe’s best at maths

Swiss school students are better at mathematics than any other young people in Europe, according to an international study.

Swiss schoolkids are Europe’s best at maths
File photo: Sykez Tom

Pupils in Switzerland received the best mean score for mathematics in Europe in Pisa 2015, a study led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that evaluates the quality, equity and efficiency of school systems around the world.

Switzerland narrowly beat Estonia to become European maths champion, though it lagged behind global leader Singapore.

The Netherlands, Denmark and Slovenia followed just behind Switzerland in the maths rankings.

Switzerland also performed well in the science category, the main focus of Pisa 2015.

Though it didn’t take the top spot, Swiss students’ science prowess was judged to be better than the OECD average, joining an elite group that also included European countries Germany, the UK, Estonia, Finland and Belgium.

However the alpine country fell behind in reading, achieving a mean score judged to be around the OECD average.

This year around 540,000 15-year-old students from 72 countries completed the Pisa assessment, which involved multiple choice questions in science, maths, reading and collaborative problem solving.

Singapore out performed all other participating countries across maths, science and reading.

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SCIENCE

π: Swiss researchers calculate most exact figure of pi ever recorded

Using a supercomputer, Swiss researchers have determined the most accurate version of the mathematical formula of pi ever recorded.

π: Swiss researchers calculate most exact figure of pi ever recorded
The symbol for pi. Picture: Wikicommons.

Swiss researchers said on Monday they had calculated the mathematical constant pi to a new world-record level of exactitude, hitting 62.8 trillion figures using a supercomputer.

“The calculation took 108 days and nine hours” using a supercomputer, the Graubünden University of Applied Sciences said in a statement.

Its efforts were “almost twice as fast as the record Google set using its cloud in 2019, and 3.5 times as fast as the previous world record in 2020”, according to the university’s Centre for Data Analytics, Visualisation and Simulation.

Researchers are waiting for the Guinness Book of Records to certify their feat, until then revealing only the final ten digits they calculated for pi: 7817924264.

The previous world-record pi calculation had achieved 50 trillion figures. Pi represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, with an infinite number of digits following the decimal point.

Researchers nevertheless continue to push calculations for the constant — whose first 10 figures are 3.141592653 — ever further using powerful computers.

The Swiss team said that the experience they built up calculating pi could be applied in other areas like “RNA analysis, simulations of fluid dynamics and textual analysis”.

Not only was the task labour intensive, but it called upon the best computing technology on offer – with more than 300 terabytes of RAM required to calculate the new more exact incarnation of pi.

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