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Google Bids Pi For Nortel Patents

David Gilbert


Logo - Google Pi

While it may have ultimately failed in it bid to get its hands on any of Nortel Networks’ patents, it seems as if Google at least had some fun while trying.

It was revealed last week that a consortium of six technology heavyweights had secured 6,000 patents from the bankrupt telecoms company for $4.5 billion, leaving Google and Intel out in the cold. Details of the bidding process are now emerging with Google’s various bids in particular attracting some attention. We reported way back at the start of April that Google had made an initial bid of $900 million for the patents but after that the Mountain View company got a little creative with its bids.

Brun's Constant Meissel-Mertens Constant

During the bidding process last week, the next bid made by Google was $1,902,160,540, which, after a quick search on Google, is shown to be Brun’s Constant – the number obtained by adding the reciprocals of the odd twin primes. Realising it needed to up its bid, Google’s next offer was again of a mathematical bent. The figure was $2,614,972,128, which everyone will immediately recognise as the Meissel-Mertens Constant which as you know is defined as the limiting difference between the harmonic series summed only over the primes and the natural logarithm of the natural logarithm.

Google’s final bid was somewhat more main stream, though again with a mathematical focus. Google bid $3.14159 billion, which is obviously a multiple of the figure commonly known as Pi. As the bids came in, those organising the auction became a little confused with Google’s bid. "Google was bidding with numbers that were not even numbers," one source involved with the auction told Reuters. "It became clear that they were bidding with [numbers such as] the distance between the earth and the sun. One was the sum of a famous mathematical constant, and then when it got to $3 billion, they bid pi - $3.14159bn," the source said. "Either they were supremely confident or they were bored."

While Google may have been confident, the company eventually lost out and the patents, which related to telecommunications including 4G technology such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), could end up being very important in the increasingly litigious area of mobile phone manufacturing.

Source: Reuters

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