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Google Bid Pi Billion Dollars For Nortel Patents

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the lighter-side-of-patent-news dept.

Math 213

mikejuk writes "Google mystified other participants in an auction for patents last week by their choice of bids. They weren't the round regular numbers that are normally expected. After first bidding $1,902,160,540 — a reference to Brun's constant — and later bidding $2,614,972,128 for the Meissel-Mertens constant, they ended up submitting a bid for $3.14159 billion. Google ended up losing the auction — but was that a deliberate ploy?"

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The deal fails when Nortel askes for exact change. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641424)

The deal fails when Nortel askes for exact change.

Re:The deal fails when Nortel askes for exact chan (1)

dotHectate (975458) | about 3 years ago | (#36641456)

If they paid in coins, you might say exact change would be even easier than with dollar bills. No "rounding" required in that case :)

Re:The deal fails when Nortel askes for exact chan (0)

JamesP (688957) | about 3 years ago | (#36641550)

Yeah, then Google will buy and change the bitcoin system to allow for just that.

Of course they lost! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641434)

By rounding instead of bidding pi billion exactly, they angered the Math Gods.

Re:Of course they lost! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 3 years ago | (#36641692)

They could at least have rounded to the full number of digits available, i.e. $3,141,592,653.59

Re:Of course they lost! (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 3 years ago | (#36642024)

I'm pretty sure it wasn't the math gods they were trying to provoke.

Instead it looks as if they were in a non-serious bidding game to make the others over pay for what are probably soon obsolete patents anyway.

Re:Of course they lost! (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 3 years ago | (#36642116)

The problem is that they should have been using Tau.

CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (3, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 3 years ago | (#36641438)

Google's CFO's glad they didn't take the next step after pi: tau [google.com] (6.28...)

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641474)

Oh, fuck you. Tau is wrong.

Signed,

-Everyone who actually uses math for a living.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

torstenvl (769732) | about 3 years ago | (#36641496)

You're clearly misinformed. Tau is a much more elegant number for every use case. Way to post AC, btw.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

dkf (304284) | about 3 years ago | (#36641540)

You're clearly misinformed. Tau is a much more elegant number for every use case. Way to post AC, btw.

So you're claiming that it is better for calculating areas of circles? (\pi r^2 vs \tau/2 r^2) Or volumes of spheres? (4/3\pi r^3 vs 2/3\tau r^3)

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

Sique (173459) | about 3 years ago | (#36641752)

The volume of a sphere is actually 1/6 tau r.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641924)

Let me try that.
OK, I have a sphere which is 4 m in diameter = 2 meters radius.
1/6 * tau * (2 m) = ( tau / 3 ) m = 2.094 m

Now using 4/3 * pi * r^3 or 2/3 * tau * r^3
(4/3) * pi * (2 m)^3 = (32 / 3) * (pi) m^3 = 33.51 m^3
(2/3) * tau * (2 m)^3 = (16/3) * (tau) m^3 = 33.51 m^3

The first one can not be a volume as it is not a volume unit.
One of the best ways I had to double check my math in class was to make sure the units made sense.
And just to make sure, I did try 1/6 * tau * r^3, and it was still off by 4 times (8.376 m^3) (Hey, 2/3 = 4/6, which would make this the formula above....)

So you either didn't preview or there is a joke I'm not getting...

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (2)

black soap (2201626) | about 3 years ago | (#36642410)

Math fail. This is why people who use math don't listen to people who advocate Tau.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641554)

Yeah, I'd really rather use numbers like 3/2 tau instead of 3 pi. Hell, if tau = pi / 2 (which is a usage that predates tau = 2 pi), I'd totally drink to that. But making me deal with fractions more than necessary? Sorry. LAME. /Control systems and signal processing guy

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 3 years ago | (#36641564)

Want to take a shot at enlightening the rest of us non-tau plebes?

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641650)

In excruciating detail:

http://tauday.com/

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641812)

Just read this, and you'll at least note how many mathematical operations are simplified with a constant that means "a whole turn through a circle": http://tauday.com/

Tau = 2*Pi, just a single constant value off, so the math isn't much more difficult to do, but the meaning of what you're doing can be masked by that constant.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 years ago | (#36642040)

Just read this, and you'll at least note how many mathematical operations are simplified with a constant that means "a whole turn through a circle": http://tauday.com/ [tauday.com] Tau = 2*Pi, just a single constant value off, so the math isn't much more difficult to do, but the meaning of what you're doing can be masked by that constant.

Tau as a symbol is already used in math related to pi (pi/2, not 2pi). We need to start using futhark runes or something.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641620)

For EVERY use case ....
Mmm, except for you know, calculating the area of circles:
Area = pi.r^2
Area = (tau/2).r^2
The former is clearly more elegant you halfwit. But the stupidest aspect of you post is the fact that you actually have an opinion. I mean seriously unless you are completely retarded who gives a flying fuck about a factor of 2 either way. I mean seriously, do you also have an opinion on the 'best' number or colour ?

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641728)

To be fair, that 1/2 with "tau" is a result of integration. It may make the formula more complicated, but it does give more hints to where it comes from.

--Someone who thinks "tau" is stupid because it is too large and because the letter tau is already overloaded.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

inca34 (954872) | about 3 years ago | (#36641922)

Tau seems more mathematically correct given the nature of calculus and the relationship between instantaneous slope and areas under curves, or derivatives and integrals, respectively.

Consider the equations of motion of an object given a constance acceleration, C.
Accel = C
We know the relative velocity through integration with respect to time.
Velocity = C * t
We know the relative position through integration with respect to time.
Position = 1/2 C * t^2

As we move from integrating and differentiating with respect to time toward space, especially conicals, we begin to see meaning of these fractions in a way where it seems Tau is more natural than Pi given the derivation of the radii/surface area/volume relationships.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

black soap (2201626) | about 3 years ago | (#36642432)

The derivation works with pi as well as it ever could with tau. Funny thing about integration - coefficients are the easy part.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (2)

torstenvl (769732) | about 3 years ago | (#36641768)

Calling people "halfwit" (or any other name) is the hallmark of someone who doesn't know what they're talking about.

You're confusing the idea that an expression has fewer terms with the idea that an expression is more elegant. That is simply not true. The core of elegance is conceptual clarity and simplicity.

A circle is a curve. How do you find the area under a curve? Oh wait... and what do integrals look like for these kinds of expressions and relationships? Let's walk through this conceptually: the area proscribed by a circle is the area of every actual circle inside it of infinitesimal width. You start with the tiniest possible circular band, and expand the radius outward, adding the area covered by each subsequent band to your total, each such band having area A = C*r. And it's obvious that, as you expand outward, C remains proportional to r, and taking the integral here is going to be intimately related to the relationship of C and r. So the ABSOLUTELY KEY QUESTION, the ONE THING you need to know to take the integral and figure out the area, is this: by what factor is C proportional to r?

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642124)

Find the person who taught you to approach the area of a circle like that and slap them, hard. Then teach them a correct way.

Proscription [Re:CFO's glad they didn't take t...] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642140)

... the area proscribed by a circle is ...

I am mulling over the concept of a circle proscribing its own area.

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642138)

Nah, they'd have gone to Feignebaum's Constant next, I think - and maybe have won the bid. ($4,669,201,609)

Re:CFO's glad they didn't take the next step (3, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | about 3 years ago | (#36642492)

Google's CFO's glad they didn't take the next step after pi: tau [google.com] (6.28...)

The CFO's would have been more worried at a bid for $googol [google.com] .

Another argument against Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641442)

If Google bid Tau [dailymail.co.uk] they'd own it!

Geeze!

Re:Another argument against Pi (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 3 years ago | (#36641612)

Well, actually that's an interesting question. I really wonder how much Apple and company were willing to go up to. It seems to me that Google and Intel together would have been worth their while pushing their bid a fair bit more; the Microsoft/Apple cartel was clearly pretty desperate and I think they might well have bid above Tau.

To absolutely guarantee a win, I think Google would have been safe with going for their namesake a Googol [wikipedia.org] . I doubt even Microsoft would be willing to outbid that, even if it was in Somali Cents. I have no idea why they didn't just go for it.

Re:Another argument against Pi (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 3 years ago | (#36642392)

To absolutely guarantee a win, I think Google would have been safe with going for their namesake a Googol [wikipedia.org] . I doubt even Microsoft would be willing to outbid that, even if it was in Somali Cents. I have no idea why they didn't just go for it.

Hmmm, a Googol of Ostmarks, perhaps?

Google is so cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641464)

Their like teh best! I love da g00g|3. Their so rad because dey use da numb3rs.
 
Who the fuck cares that they used pi? Any 12 year old could have come up with that shit.

Weird bid numbers are normal for large bids (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641486)

If you're willing to bid $3 billion for something, the last thing you want is for someone to bid $3 000 000 001.00, and beat you in the bid. So it is quite routine for bids on large contracts with a closed bidding process to use unusual numbers rather than round numbers. I've seen this in multi-tens or hundreds of million-dollar land acreage bids for the rights to drill for oil. They'll bid $30 545 777.88, and weird things like that. Usually the "extra bit" is a small percentage of the total bid amount, but if you're going to do that, why not have some fun with it? And if you're "mystifying" the other participants, good! That's the whole point -- to keep them guessing and prevent them from figuring out your strategy so they can't bid $1 more.

Re:Weird bid numbers are normal for large bids (0)

giorgist (1208992) | about 3 years ago | (#36641978)

Oil companies where signaling to other companies through the bid pricing as they where not allowed to collude. It is common practice where the message was hidden in the price

Re:Weird bid numbers are normal for large bids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642064)

The oil companies don't have access to the bids of competitors. In most countries the bids get submitted to the government agency responsible for managing the exploration rights, and none of the companies know what the other bids are until all the bids are in and the final results are publicly announced. Even then they only know what the winning bid was unless they choose to disclose their losing bids to competitors.

I don't get how this alleged collusion is supposed to work unless they actually are colluding by sharing their bids before the deadline, and in that case, which is flagrantly illegal, why bother with hiding anything in the number itself?

In other words, citation and explanation needed.

Re:Weird bid numbers are normal for large bids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642000)

I've seen the same thing on eBay bids worth just a few dollars.

Google's Last Bid: Avogadro's Constant = $6*10^23 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641494)

Too bad they didn't take the auction seriously.

Re:Google's Last Bid: Avogadro's Constant = $6*10^ (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 3 years ago | (#36641734)

No, their last bid would of course have been $googol = $10^100 - after all, they named their company after that number!

Re:Google's Last Bid: Avogadro's Constant = $6*10^ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642262)

No, their last bid would have been the inspiration for the name of their campus.

$googolplex = $10^(10^100)

Of course the rules would have had to allow bids to be accepted in scientific notation as writing out the number in decimal would have taken longer than the lifespan of the Earth.

Re:Google's Last Bid: Avogadro's Constant = $6*10^ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642514)

Of course the rules would have had to allow bids to be accepted in scientific notation as writing out the number in decimal would have taken longer than the lifespan of the Earth.

It would have been a fair bit harder than that: there aren't even a googolplex of atoms in the Universe to write the number on.

Re:Google's Last Bid: Avogadro's Constant = $6*10^ (1)

luke923 (778953) | about 3 years ago | (#36642342)

I had a math prof in college who didn't know this fact. Sad.

Sounds unwise (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 3 years ago | (#36641510)

At best, they were engaged in an advertising campaign that had the potential for being extremely expensive (marketing cost = magic number that became their winning bid - lowest bid that would have won). At worst, they were being extremely foolish with shareholders' money, potentially overpaying by hundreds of millions of dollars just because they think some numbers are cool.

Re:Sounds unwise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641528)

You sound unwise.

Re:Sounds unwise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641544)

Zing!

Google: Global Superpower Math Nerds (3, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 3 years ago | (#36641562)

This is exactly the kind of behavior I would expect from a group of guys who, once routinely stuffed into their high school lockers, have now grown up (?) to become full-fledged white cat-stroking Bond villains.

I give it another 6-9 months more of federal government inquiries and subpoenas before they dig a moat around their campus and fill it with laser-headed sharks...

Rounding (1)

manekineko2 (1052430) | about 3 years ago | (#36641604)

Well, normally I think companies try and figure a ballpark figure that might be good for their bid. They then round it arbitrarily to "round" numbers that are near their ballpark figure. This is susceptible to the same overpaying problem in that a round number may be greater than the lowest bid the would have won.

In this case, they were just using universal constants as their round numbers.

Re:Rounding (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 3 years ago | (#36641636)

Well, normally I think companies try and figure a ballpark figure that might be good for their bid. They then round it arbitrarily to "round" numbers that are near their ballpark figure. This is susceptible to the same overpaying problem in that a round number may be greater than the lowest bid the would have won.

In this case, they were just using universal constants as their round numbers.

Fair point. If you're right, then MBA's preference for bid amounts ending in lots of zeros is no more efficient than Google's preference for numbers ending in digits other than zero.

Re:Sounds unwise (1)

swb (14022) | about 3 years ago | (#36641652)

Maybe they were playing a kind of brinksmanship, forcing competitors to bid higher and higher for patents they needed more than Google did, and thus depriving competitors of cash useful for other operations that are more critical to Google.

This kind of corporate strategy makes a lot of sense for shareholders -- if you win the auction for a patent crucial to a competitor's product, even if you paid somewhat more than the market value, you deprive a competitor of a technology or force them to license or cross-license with you, or make them re-design their product.

If you lose, you don't spend a dime but you force your competitor to spend far more than they otherwise would have, and thus deprive them of resource useful for competing against you.

It's reminds me of playing backgammon -- even if you have only a weak advantage, doubling forces your opponent to either resign or accept and chance losing.

Re:Sounds unwise (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 3 years ago | (#36641676)

Could be. I think you also help make the case against software patents.

Re:Sounds unwise (1)

black soap (2201626) | about 3 years ago | (#36642466)

Could not this same strategy be applied to legitimate real-machine patents?

Re:Sounds unwise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641774)

marketing cost = magic number that became their winning bid - lowest bid that would have won

Assuming they had a magical knowledge of "lowest bid that would have won".

Re:Sounds unwise (1)

xelah (176252) | about 3 years ago | (#36641966)

Why is bidding pi billion more foolish than bidding 3.15 billion or 3.10 billion? The aim is to bid slightly more than the second highest bid but less than the value to you of the item. They can only estimate.

Auctions are quite tricky things. The expected winning bid if everyone is rational and everything is ideal is the second highest valuation of all of the bidders in the room. That's true not just for a standard auction (bids going up, winner is the last one standing), but, on average, for weird kinds of auctions like ones where the price creeps downwards (the winner is the first to accept) or where the winning bidder pays the amount of the second highest bid. (This last one is designed to give everyone bidding no incentive to bid anything other than their true valuation).

The really scary one is the winners curse. No doubt many an IT contract has lost money and been delivered late because of this - it's surprising how few people who's job it is to know don't know about it. Suppose you're bidding for a patent, the patent will give a certain income no matter who wins and that you don't know exactly what that income is. So you estimate. So do the other bidders. As the number of bidders you're competing with goes up should your maximum bid go up, down or stay the same?

The answer is that it should go down. If everyone's estimates are unbiased (and, say, normal) then 50% of the time you'll estimate too high and 50% of the time too low. If there are no other bidders (or no auction) then this is fine, on average you make money. But in an auction, if you win then it's because your estimate is the highest. This happens more often when you've overestimated than when you've underestimated. It happens more when your estimate is higher than three other unbiased estimates than when it's higher than two.

So if your job involves estimating IT projects for contracts your company (and its mathematically naive negotiators) is bidding for you're likely to find yourself perennially struggling to complete them on time, even if your estimates are correct on average (which is admittedly unlikely, given that it's IT we're talking about).

Re:Sounds unwise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642166)

Or they were trying to send a message: that these patents shouldn't stand. The bids were all mathematical constants, and US law doesn't allow numbers to be patented.

Patents have irrational value (5, Funny)

tdwebste (747947) | about 3 years ago | (#36641518)

All these bids are irrational numbers.

I think the message is clear. Patents have irrational value.

Re:Patents have irrational value (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 3 years ago | (#36641566)

No, Google should have bid a complex number.

So they can split the value of patents between their real and imaginary values.

Also, no bid would be greater (or smaller) than that one.

Re:Patents have irrational value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641656)

Apart from, perhaps, a larger complex number?

Re:Patents have irrational value (2)

Qubit (100461) | about 3 years ago | (#36641838)

No, Google should have bid a complex number.

I mean, they kind of did that with their bid of $3.14159 * 10^9 + 0i, right?

Just imagine what the accountants would have done if The Goog had tried to bid a non-trivial complex number.... probably just complained that they didn't have a column for "i" in their spreadsheet... :-)

Re:Patents have irrational value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642454)

That is good!

Google's Last Bid: Avogadro's number (6*10^23) (1)

iri1989 (1633865) | about 3 years ago | (#36641526)

Too bad they didn't take the auction seriously.

Re:Google's Last Bid: Avogadro's number (6*10^23) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641824)

They could have bid one googol dollars.

Next bid? (1)

waddgodd (34934) | about 3 years ago | (#36641542)

Had they wanted to continue, would the next bid have been Feigenbaum's (4.669201609) billion?

Re:Next bid? (1)

Utopia (149375) | about 3 years ago | (#36641948)

or Levy's constant 3.275822918 billion

Android becoming less free (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641556)

Unfortunately this may spell the end of "cheap" Android phones since the LTE patents would need to be licensed. Google should have been more serious, but this kinda smells like they may not be committed to the Android platform.

Apple winning here pretty much cements it's place as iOS being the most popular and cheapest to produce, Same with Microsoft. In 5 years I predict the only Android phones will be made by companies already licensed from Microsoft to use Windows Phone, effectively putting WP and Android on the same device platform to end-run around the patents.

Maybe at some point the DOJ will tell Apple that it MUST license it's iOS and MacOS out to at least one competitor in order to break up a monopolistic advantage they might get. I see the future consisting of Mobile phones that run iOS, some future version of Android that doesn't suck and isn't fragmented, and Windows Phone. Nokia and RIM have or will need to adopt one of the above or face obsolescence.

Re:Android becoming less free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641786)

I don't need a license. I just need the hardware and will install my own OS. Thank you.

Re:Android becoming less free (2)

DickBreath (207180) | about 3 years ago | (#36642536)

You are assuming that some software patent reform doesn't happen. At some point when this becomes a big enough stink, something will change. Maybe all those billions will end up having been paid for worthless software patents. Now that would be a laugh. But it would be fitting. Paying billions for the ability to harm your competitors. It is beyond clear that these patents are being acquired for no other purpose.

It must be fun... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#36641574)

To be sufficiently rich that you can just start spending money is such quantities that both the size, and the specifically chosen value, signal "I don't give a fuck, because I don't have to!"

Re:It must be fun... (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 years ago | (#36641678)

to be so rich? it's investor money they were bidding with, they're just in control of it. as such you'd like to read reasoning for that in quarterly reports, not bullshit about how they saved few tens of millions by their "fx hedging program"(no shit, they really think that's worthwhile info to spend couple of slides on and then just skip over the billion dollar stuff). but did they even want to win the bids? did they have solid reasoning for the bids worth? did they even check what they were bidding on? they sure could have used some of those patents.. but I guess it's better for them to just keep out of the patents game for android devices and let the device manufacturers worry about that, have you noticed how android is not actually letting fresh new players enter the phone market? niche production numbers aside, only the same old moto, samsung, lg, huawei, sony-e etc are in the game and they got their patents and licensing for the patents covered. the problem is that if you'd like to enter the android market as a manufacturer you can buy all the chips you need - but nobody on earth is going to tell you who you have to make licensing arrangements with.

Re:It must be fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642170)

to be so rich? it's investor money they were bidding with

No. It's not. This is the nature of limited liability. The investors own shares, not the money. Google is a separate legal entity which owns the money that they issued the shares for.

Big pies (4, Funny)

Groo Wanderer (180806) | about 3 years ago | (#36641608)

That's a big piece of pi.

                -Charlie

GOOGLE LOST SO WHO GIVES A FUCK !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641616)

Losing biders are losing bidders. What next, losers on ebay ??

They have done these stuff many times (3, Informative)

akm1489 (1703162) | about 3 years ago | (#36641622)

Lol, Google guyz are math Maniacs they have already done such stuff in past for many times, i remember 1 they raised their market Cap in 2004 by e-billion dollars $2,718,281,828.

Re:They have done these stuff many times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642494)

How do you raise your market capitalization by a certain amount of dollars? Quit making shit up and sounding dumber than you actually are.

Kudos (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | about 3 years ago | (#36641668)

Nice to see a company with some sense of (dork) humor. I'd have liked to see the faces when the bids came in with these numbers lol

Re:Kudos (2)

WoOS (28173) | about 3 years ago | (#36642110)

I think what Google was after was
a) some additional PR (and they got it as we see)
b) a nod from the nerd community which sometimes seemed a bit alienated lately (and they got it also as one can see from the above comment)

And they even got it for free (-lawyers' costs) as they didn't win the auction. So much for waisting shareholder's money as someone claimed above.

WTF Google... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641690)

We're bidding billions of dollars and we round Pi off at 5 decimal places?

They should have bid $3,141,592,653.59.

Re:WTF Google... (1)

houghi (78078) | about 3 years ago | (#36641762)

Why not go for the obvious and bid a googol [google.com] dollars?

They should have bid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641744)

one googol [wikipedia.org] . Now that would have been hilarious.

Weird! (1, Offtopic)

siglercm (6059) | about 3 years ago | (#36641760)

When I read this article, there were exactly 42 comments posted!

Oh, damn....

Nerdy is cool but.. (1)

arse maker (1058608) | about 3 years ago | (#36641800)

You have to wonder if all the wires are plugged in when you make billion dollar bids based on math constants.

Re:Nerdy is cool but.. (1)

maxume (22995) | about 3 years ago | (#36641854)

The $140 million is less than 5% of the $3 billion.

And if they thought the value of the patents was $3.2 billion...

Constants are public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641810)

And so should most of these patents be, also.

graham's number (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641816)

Good job they didn't go to graham's number.

Re:graham's number (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36641910)

Well, it's not like they bid $3.14 for pi. They just need to divide Graham's number down by 10^x, where x is some unfathomably huge number, and solve for the first 12 digits. Should be easy for smart guys like Google, right?

...right?

Principals didn't get it (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 years ago | (#36641860)

I'll bet dimes to dollars none of the principals on this deal "got it". It's science, after all, and scientists are just manual laborers, in the same sort of class as plumbers. The only good people in society are in finance and top corporate management.

Re:Principals didn't get it (1)

dkf (304284) | about 3 years ago | (#36642546)

The only good people in society are in finance and top corporate management.

Why do you draw artificial distinctions between financiers and top corporate management?

They bid for a constant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641864)

and later bidding $2,614,972,128 for the Meissel-Mertens constant

Wait, what? You can buy constants now? This patent thing is getting out of hand!

Yet another reason that (tau) is better thn pi ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641878)

Use people!

Love Google! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36641990)

A tech company that can convince the bean counters to bid in Pi and other such constants deserves more power!

Pi (4, Funny)

ukemike (956477) | about 3 years ago | (#36642004)

That's a nice round number.

Re:Pi (2)

paramour (110003) | about 3 years ago | (#36642200)

If only they had bid Tau they would have won.

Re:Pi (1)

black soap (2201626) | about 3 years ago | (#36642500)

Would have overpaid.

Re:Pi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642302)

That's a nice round number.

That would be 2Pi

Should have done the corporate thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642084)

And bid Google dollars

Another argument against pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642086)

They would have gotten it if they bid tau (2 * pi) billion dollars.

Great time to end software patents. (2)

etymxris (121288) | about 3 years ago | (#36642130)

End software patents, leave this consortium with 4.5 billions dollars worth of paper.

In any case, I hope this deal fails to pass regulatory inspection. Apple monopolizing smartphones with patents is probably worth 10-20 billion to them. No one should be able to monopolize technology. The whole idea of patents made more sense hundreds of years ago when everything was trade secrets, but in the information age it's just a way to create artificial monopolies on certain technologies.

It'sa Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642186)

Google can be so irrational sometimes. tehe

This is right on so many levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36642196)

I love Google! :-)

They bring joy to the world and employment to the masses (including me!).

There's some things Google didn't do... (1)

luke923 (778953) | about 3 years ago | (#36642368)

First, if Google was going to go all math crazy with their bids, they should have started their bid with $phi billion. Second, why didn't they just go the Fibonacci route?

Now a strategic chess move (1)

fmachado (89905) | about 3 years ago | (#36642528)

Google now can spend 1 or 2 billion buying some anti-patent legislation (like MS bought a law months ago) and destroy 4.5 billion of his enemies (and even regain some "Don't be evil" karma), all with one smart move. This could even protect them from other expensive and baseless suits in the future and, as a bonus, mock at Apple and MS for their futile expenditure. Talk about money well spent.

Can someone please stop this patent madness and resume innovation? Please? Can't USA see that it's hurting so much more than helping (if it helps)? If it would affect only USA, I would be the first to say "go on" but it hurts all the world, even if indirectly.

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