Carnot’s Big Number Duel
Recently, I came across this Numberphile video, discussing the contest held at MIT in 2007 between two professors (one from MIT and one from Princeton). The objective was to find the biggest finite number. Of course, the number should have some usage. You can’t just say add 1 to the previous number. Have a look at the linked video. It is really interesting.
Inspired by that video, 3 of us at Carnot DataLabs thought of having Carnot’s big number duel. The rules were simple:
- The numbers have to be relevant to Carnot (I can’t just add Graham’s number to the discussion out of nowhere). More specifically, they should be relevant to Carnot’s operations. You can’t just report the number of atoms in a Simha Kit (although kudos to you if you can accurately calculate that :P).
- If the number represents a measurement, the units have to be SI units (else I’d just write the distance traveled by tractors in nanometers or femtometers, to get bigger and bigger numbers)
- Categories cannot be repeated (so if I reported the distance traveled by the Carnot fleet in one day, you can’t just report the distance traveled in one week to get a bigger number). You can have numbers of the same unit as long as the context is different.
For the purpose of this post, let’s call the 3 contestants ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’. Here’s how the contest panned out:
A: I’ll start off small but meaningful. We are Carnot, We are THE 1
B: This one is easy to beat :P. Simha App’s play store rating: 4.7
C: Our strength — 72 and growing strong!
A: Let’s ramp this up a bit. Number of customers who have our tractor telematics devices installed: ~3500
B: This makes it easy for me. Number of devices: 4102
C: Number of Krishi Diary App downloads: 1.15 x 10⁵ (1.15 lakh)
A: Hmm. Time to get data-oriented. Number of villages of India in our locations database: 5.65 x 10⁵ (5.65 lakh)
B: I’ve another meeting coming up. Let’s get done with this. Number of pings we received yesterday from our telematics devices: 2.7 x 10⁷ (2.7 crores)
C: Not so soon, B! You know what’s bigger than the tech data? Financial data! Revenue generated by Carnot so far: 3.5 x 10⁸ (35 crore rupees)
A: Engine time by our devices in the last 30 days (in seconds): 6.1 x 10⁸ (61 crore seconds). Tech rules, C!
B: Thanks for the hint. Distance covered by our devices in last 30 days (in meters): 1.27 x 10⁹ (127 crore meters)
C: Interesting. Here’s a bigger financial number. Sum total of farm expenses entered by users on Krishi Diary App: 3.39 x 10⁹ (339 crore rupees)
A: You are again underestimating tech. Let’s take this to the next level. Total storage in our data lake (just the monitoring dump): 6.4 x 10¹² bytes (6.4 terabytes). Your turn B.
B: (after a long time) I give up. C, can you come up with a bigger number!
C: Not yet. I can generate bigger numbers in already covered categories. But that will be against the rules. And anyway, I think the size of data will always be the clear winner.
A: I win!
Can you think of a bigger number in the context of Carnot and defeat A? Then do reply to this post!
PS: For the curious ones out there, Graham’s number mentioned in this post is an unimaginably large number. I say unimaginably large because the human brain cannot physically store the number of digits that constitute Graham’s number. It is famous because, for a long time, it held the record for being the largest number to be used in a mathematical proof. You can learn more about it here.
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