Firing a shotgun to calculate the approximate value of π

This mathematics paper broadens the old definition of “a shotgun approach” to solving a problem:

A Ballistic Monte Carlo Approximation of π,” Vincent Dumoulin [pictured here], Félix Thouin, arXiv 1404.1499v2, April 8, 2014. (Thanks to investigator Marcus Sprenkel for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Montreal, report:

“We compute a Monte Carlo approximation of {\pi} using importance sampling with shots coming out of a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun as the proposal distribution. An approximated value of 3.131 is obtained, corresponding to a 0.33% error on the exact value of {\pi}. To our knowledge, this represents the first attempt at estimating {\pi} using such method, thus opening up new perspectives towards computing mathematical constants using everyday tools.”


Here’s detail from the study:


The Physics arXiv Blog wrote an essay about this.

BONUS: Dwyer’s 1976 patent for shotgun-shell garden seeding

BONUS (unrelated):  “Proteomic analysis of human gastric juice: a shotgun approach,” Cynthia RMY Liang,, Sandra Tan, Hwee Tong Tan, Qingsong Lin, Teck Kwang Lim, Yi Liu, Khay Guan Yeoh, Jimmy So, and Maxey Chun, Proteomics 10, no. 21 (2010): 3928-3931.