Frenchman calculates 13th root of 200-digit number

In a record-breaking 70.2 seconds


Frenchman Alexis Lemaire yesterday broke his own record for calculating the 13th root of a randomly-generated 200-digit number, pulling off the impressive mental feat in just 70.2 seconds.

The 27-year-old "mathlete", who's doing an artificial intelligence PhD at the University of Reims, indulged in a "great deal of brow-furrowing and lip-chewing" at London's Science Museum while correctly working out the answer at 2,407,899,893,032,210, according to the Telegraph. His previous best time was 72.4 seconds.

Lemaire described his latest feat, which earns him a place in the Guinness Book of Records, as "extremely satisfying", adding: "I'm really excited to improve myself."

He apparently first deployed his mathematical skills as 9-year-old schoolkid, where he'd wow staff and chums by telling them the square root of eight digit numbers they entered into calculators. By 2002, he was able to claim the 13th root of a 100-digit number crown - described as "a yardstick for the world's leading mathletes since Herbert B de Grote achieved the feat in 23 minutes in 1970".

Lemaire evidently got bored with that three years ago after smashing his own record with a nifty 3.6 seconds, and moved on to the 200-digit challenge.

He refuses to reveal just how he does his mental gymnastics, but hinted: "I will not say exactly what is my method. I am doing something like artificial intelligence in reverse, because I am imitating a computer."

Lemaire concluded by explaining the possibility of "mind uploading", or the "hypothetical ability to create an accurate computer simulation of a human mind". He elaborated: "My ambition is to generalise these abilities to many brain processes, to run something like a computer programme in my head which I can use for any task.

"If I run a computer programme all the time in my head, it should be possible to download it to a computer programme and that leads to mind-uploading. This would mean the computer would have all the same skills as me. I think it is possible." ®


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