Definition

googol and googolplex

Part of the Mathematics glossary:

A googol is 10 to the 100th power (which is 1 followed by 100 zeros). A googol is larger than the number of elementary particles in the universe, which amount to only 10 to the 80th power.

The term was invented by Milton Sirotta, the 9-year nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner, who had asked his nephew what he thought such a large number should be called. Such a number, Milton apparently replied after a short thought, could only be called something as silly as a "googol."

Later, another mathematician devised the term googolplex for 10 to the power of googol - that is, 1 followed by 10 to the power of 100 zeros. Frank Pilhofer has determined that, given Moore's Law (which is that computer processor power doubles about every 1 to 2 years), it would make no sense to try to print out a googolplex for another 524 years - since all earlier attempts to print a googolplex out would be overtaken by the faster processor.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, named their search engine after the term googol. In 1997, Larry was brainstorming names with other Stanford graduate students, including Sean Anderson, and looking at available domain names. Anderson miskeyed googol as "google" and found it available. Larry liked it and the name "Google" stuck. Google's corporate headquarters is called the GooglePlex, an affectionately tongue-in-cheek reference to the origins of the company name.

This was last updated in December 2006
Contributor(s): Lawrence Lea
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • quant (quantitative analyst)

    - A quant (quantitative analyst) is a financial services professional whose qualifications also include advanced mathematics and and computer skills. Quants design complex mathematical models for us... (WhatIs.com)

  • statistical analysis

    - Statistical analysis is a component of data analytics. In the context of business intelligence (BI), statistical analysis involves collecting and scrutinizing every single data sample in a set of i... (WhatIs.com)

  • algorithm

    - An algorithm (pronounced AL-go-rith-um) is a procedure or formula for solving a problem. (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Mathematics

    - Terms related to mathematics, including definitions about logic, algorithms and computations and mathematical terms used in computer science and business.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About googol and googolplexPowered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.