Discover How to Calculate Pi Using C Programming Language with Easy-to-Follow Code Examples

Table of content

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Pi?
  3. Why Use C Programming Language?
  4. Basic Concepts of Calculating Pi
  5. Code Example 1: The Leibniz Formula
  6. Code Example 2: The Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe Formula
  7. Code Example 3: The Gauss-Legendre Algorithm
  8. Conclusion


Calculating Pi has been a topic of fascination for mathematicians and computer scientists alike for centuries. While there are many algorithms out there for calculating Pi, some of them can be quite complex and require a deep understanding of advanced mathematics to implement.

Thankfully, the C Programming Language offers a straightforward and accessible way to calculate Pi using a basic numerical method known as the Monte Carlo method. This involves randomly generating points within a given square, and then counting how many of those points fall within the area of a circle inscribed within the square.

In this article, we'll explore how to implement the Monte Carlo method for calculating Pi using C programming language, with clear and easy-to-follow code examples that will take you from start to finish. Whether you're a seasoned programmer or a newcomer to the world of coding, this article has something for everyone who wants to learn more about calculating Pi and the power of the C Programming language.

What is Pi?

Pi, denoted by the Greek letter π, is one of the most fascinating mathematical constants. Its value is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and is approximately equal to 3.14159. However, its decimal representation is infinite and non-repeating, making it an irrational number. This means that its exact value cannot be expressed as a finite number of digits or as a ratio of two integers.

Pi has been studied for thousands of years, with ancient civilizations like the Babylonians and Egyptians approximating its value. The first known calculation of pi as an approximation to its exact value was done by the Greek mathematician Archimedes using a geometric method.

Today, pi plays a crucial role in various fields, including but not limited to mathematics, physics, and engineering. It is used to calculate the area and volume of a circle, and it appears in numerous mathematical formulas, including those related to trigonometry and calculus. Moreover, pi has inspired a cultural fascination, with Pi Day being celebrated worldwide on March 14th (3/14) every year.

Why Use C Programming Language?

C programming language is widely known and used in the coding community, especially in scientific and engineering applications. It is a high-level programming language that can handle low-level activities and real-time applications, making C an attractive choice for many programmers. Another advantage of using C is its efficiency in utilizing hardware resources, such as memory and CPU. C is considered the language of choice for system programming and embedded systems.

Since C is a compiled language, it can generate machine code faster than an interpreted language. It also allows programmers to optimize the performance of their code by controlling the memory usage and by using pointers. Besides, C programming language provides excellent support for creating mathematical calculations, which can be useful when dealing with scientific calculations and simulations.

Moreover, C serves as the base programming language for other languages like Python, Ruby, and Perl. Understanding C will give you a better insight into the workings of other programming languages. C also provides better control over computer hardware and network-centric programming, making it a popular option for creating efficient and robust applications.

In summary, C programming language is valuable for its versatility and efficiency when it comes to real-time applications and low-level programming. Its capability to optimize hardware resources and support mathematical computations makes it a reliable choice for scientific calculations and simulation tasks. Understanding C may also lead to a better understanding of other programming languages that use it as a base, making it a valuable tool for any programmer's toolkit.

Basic Concepts of Calculating Pi

Calculating pi is a fundamental mathematical problem that has been studied for centuries. In computing, there are several algorithms that can be used to estimate the value of pi, including the Monte Carlo method and the arithmetic-geometric mean. These algorithms are typically implemented using high-level programming languages like Python, but they can also be coded in C for faster computations.

To calculate pi using C, we first need to understand some of the basic concepts involved in the process. One of the most important concepts is that of numerical integration, which involves approximating the area under a curve using a finite number of samples. This technique is commonly used to estimate the value of pi, by integrating the function f(x) = 4/(1+x^2) between 0 and 1.

Another important concept in pi calculation is the use of infinite series, such as the Leibniz series and the Gregory series. These series can be used to compute pi with great accuracy by iteratively adding terms until the desired level of precision is achieved.

In addition, there are several optimization techniques that can be employed to improve the efficiency of pi calculation, such as parallel processing and caching. For example, by breaking down the problem into several smaller subproblems and processing them simultaneously on multiple cores or computers, we can greatly reduce the computational time required to calculate pi.

Overall, understanding the basic concepts involved in pi calculation is essential for anyone interested in implementing this problem in C. With the right algorithms and techniques, it is possible to compute pi to a high level of precision using nothing but pseudocode and a working knowledge of C programming.

Code Example 1: The Leibniz Formula

One of the most common methods for calculating Pi is the Leibniz formula, which was developed by the German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in the late 17th century. This formula involves using an infinite series of fractions to approximate the value of Pi:

Pi/4 = 1 - 1/3 + 1/5 - 1/7 + 1/9 - 1/11 + ...

This formula can be easily implemented using C programming language, and is a great starting point for those looking to explore Pi calculation through coding.

Here's a sample pseudocode implementation of the Leibniz formula:

n = 0 # initialize counter
value = 0.0 # initialize result

while True: # continue iterating until break statement is hit
    sign = (-1) ** n # determine the sign of the current term
    term = sign / (2 * n + 1) # calculate the value of the current term
    value += term # add the current term to the running total
    n += 1 # increment the counter
    if n >= terms: # break once we've calculated enough terms

pi = 4 * value # multiply result by 4 to get an approximation of Pi

This pseudocode implementation can be easily translated into C code by simply initializing the variables, adding a while loop, and replacing boolean variables with their equivalent logical expressions. By running this code with a larger number of terms, the accuracy of the approximation can be increased.

Code Example 2: The Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe Formula

The Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe Formula is a popular algorithm for computing the digits of pi. It was first introduced in 1995 by Simon Plouffe and can be implemented in C programming language with ease. This formula uses a unique approach that allows it to calculate individual digits of pi without having to compute all of the previous ones first.

The Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe Formula is a mathematical expression that can be translated into pseudocode and implemented in C programming language. This algorithm requires minimal computing power and can be applied to compute the value of pi to millions of decimal places accurately.

The efficiency of the Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe Formula is due to its ability to compute each hexadecimal digit separately. It requires no iterative calculations and thus, runs faster than some of the other algorithms used to compute pi. Additionally, it is highly accurate and can be used to compute the value of pi to more than a billion decimal places.

In conclusion, the Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe Formula is an efficient and accurate algorithm for computing the digits of pi using C programming language. It is easy to implement and is capable of computing millions of decimal places of pi with great accuracy. This algorithm has many practical uses, including in the fields of computer science, engineering, and mathematics.

Code Example 3: The Gauss-Legendre Algorithm

The Gauss-Legendre algorithm is a well-known method for calculating Pi that has been used in various fields of science and engineering. This algorithm uses a series of iterative equations to approximate Pi to a desired degree of accuracy. In this code example, we will demonstrate how to implement the Gauss-Legendre algorithm in C programming language using pseudocode.

To begin, we will define the initial values for the Gauss-Legendre method:

a = 1.0
b = 1.0/sqrt(2.0)
t = 0.25
p = 1.0

where sqrt represents the square root function. These initial values will be used in the iterative equations for the algorithm.

Next, we will create a loop to iterate through the algorithm until the desired degree of accuracy is reached:

for (int i = 0; i < n; i++) {
    double a_old = a;
    a = (a + b) / 2.0;
    b = sqrt(a_old * b);
    t = t - p * pow(a_old - a, 2.0);
    p = 2.0 * p;

where n represents the number of iterations and pow represents the power function. Within each iteration, the new values for a, b, t, and p are calculated using the iterative equations of the algorithm.

Finally, we will calculate Pi using the final values of a, b, and t:

double pi = pow(a + b, 2.0) / (4.0 * t);

This equation calculates the approximation of Pi using the final values of a, b, and t obtained from the Gauss-Legendre algorithm.

By using pseudocode, we can easily translate the Gauss-Legendre algorithm into C programming language. With this implementation, we can accurately calculate Pi to any desired degree of accuracy, making it a valuable tool in a variety of scientific and engineering applications.


In , calculating Pi using C programming language is a fascinating and challenging task, but it can be accomplished with the right knowledge and skills. Pseudocode can be a valuable tool for breaking down complex calculations into simpler steps, and it can help programmers develop more efficient and effective algorithms. Additionally, large language models like GPT-4 have the potential to revolutionize programming by providing more advanced and intelligent tools for developers. These models can improve the accuracy and efficiency of calculations, and they can help programmers save time and energy on repetitive tasks. As technology continues to evolve, it is exciting to think about what new advancements and innovations may be possible in the world of programming and computer science.

I am a driven and diligent DevOps Engineer with demonstrated proficiency in automation and deployment tools, including Jenkins, Docker, Kubernetes, and Ansible. With over 2 years of experience in DevOps and Platform engineering, I specialize in Cloud computing and building infrastructures for Big-Data/Data-Analytics solutions and Cloud Migrations. I am eager to utilize my technical expertise and interpersonal skills in a demanding role and work environment. Additionally, I firmly believe that knowledge is an endless pursuit.

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