If someone told you that there was a programmer who wrote a soft base station in 10 months, you would think it was a fantasy, because such a big project requires hundreds of people and elite teams, how could it be done by one person?

Fabrice Bellard, a French programmer, is one of those geniuses who, on their own, can achieve in a short period of time what it would take years or even a lifetime to achieve by standing on a level beyond the reach of ordinary people.

Fabrice Bellard, French programmer genius

Here’s a quote from Hecker News about Fabrice Bellard:


In the eyes of many, Bellard is an inhuman being who seems to have some kind of superpower that pushes him beyond the limits of what humans can achieve.

Talent childhood

Bellard was born in Grenoble, France, in 1972. While babbling, Bellard shows an interest in electronics, and the first word out of his mouth is “tape recorder.”

Growing up in a wealthy family, Bellard had access to all kinds of technology and electronics.

At age 9, he began practicing his coding skills on a TI-59 calculator, a programmable electronic calculator.

When he was 11, his family bought their first family computer, the TI-99/4A, and Bellard began learning to program using the TI Basics he brought in his brain.

At the age of 15, he got his first personal computer, the Amstrad PC1512, and it was on this computer that Bellard had his first success.

Accidental fame

In 1989, while still in high school, Bellard developed the executable compression program Lzexe, a utility for MS-DOS that compresses executable files into smaller, self-extracting forms. On his website, he describes the situation this way:

“I developed LZEXE between 1989 and 1990, when I was 17. Hard disks at that time were not only small in capacity but also expensive. I had only two floppy disks on my computer at the time (a 5-inch floppy disk was only 360K), so saving space was a big problem.

I developed the LZexe primarily for my own use and later gave it away to some friends. But then it was put on a bulletin board, and suddenly it became famous. I didn’t do any publicity. It was totally unexpected.”

Superman’s achievement

Starting with Lzexe, Bellard begins his journey to become a god.

In 1996, during his internship at Irisa, Bellard wrote a Java environment called Harissa, which consisted of a Java virtual machine and a powerful compiler called HEC, which generated C code that could be compiled into efficient native code. This year, he was only 24.

In 1997, he discovered a new formula for calculating PI faster — the Bellard formula, which is used to calculate the NTH binary number of PI. It is a variant of the Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe formula (BBP), but it is 43% faster.

Bellard has won three IOCCC (International C Chaotic Code Competition) :

The International Obfuscated C Code Contest (IOCCC, The International Obfuscated C Code Contest) is an International programming competition that aims to write The most creative and incomprehensible C Code within a 4 KB limit.

In 2000, he developed a program that implemented the modular fast Fourier transform and used it to print the largest known prime number at the time.

In 2001, he wrote OTCC, a subset of the C compiler that runs on i386 Linux, with a source code size of just 3 KB. TinyCC grew out of this work.

In 2018, he developed an image decoder, a program with only 4KB of source code that was able to decode the 128*128 resolution of the famous “Lena” test images.

Fabrice Bellard’s winning record on the IOCCC website

Among Bellard’s many achievements, the most well-known are FFMPEG and QEMU. Bellard himself considers FFMPEG and QEMU to be his two most important projects to date.

In 2000, Fabrice Bellard, under the pseudonym “Gerard Lantau”, launched FFMPEG, an open source software project that was arguably the best example of his talents in the fields of communications and digital signal processing. FFMPEG has been called the “Swiss Army Knife” of audio and video processing, which is a testament to its power. It contains a large number of functions can process audio and video and other multimedia files library, mainly used for audio and video codec, transcoding, video acquisition, format conversion, post-effect processing, etc.

Libavcodec and Libavformat are two important parts of FFMPEG. Libavcodec provides a large number of codecs for different audio and video formats. LibavFormat can encapsulate and unencapsulate different media container formats. These two parts work together to efficiently convert audio and video formats. Bellard’s architecture for FFmpeg is flexible and extensible, and supports a wide range of audio and video formats. According to current data, there are 47 publicly described companies using FFmpeg (including the familiar YouTube, VLS and Trell), but we know that This is just a drop in the bucket of companies that actually use FFMPEG. Ironically, some of the most famous companies were put on Hall of Shame on FFmpeg’s website for not following the open source protocol.

In the same year that FFMPEG was released, Bellard also participated in the IOCCC as mentioned above and won the award.

In 2005, another historic moment has arrived. That year, Bellard released one of the most important programs of his life, QEMU.

QEMU is a free, open source emulator and virtual program that virtualizes hardware. It simulates a computer processor through dynamic binary translation and provides it with a different set of hardware and device models to enable the computer to run a variety of guest operating systems. It can also be used in conjunction with KVM to run virtual machines at near native speed. QEMU can also emulate user-level processes, allowing applications compiled for one architecture to run on another.

Prior to QEMU, many emulators were open and versatile, but Bellard developed QEMU with performance, reliability, and versatility. The beauty of Bellard is not that he comes up with the idea of hardware emulation, but that he can incorporate it into the tools that programmers and testers use. Today, QEMU has become an indispensable tool for many programmers.

Is the result of love

Bellard is known to open source his major projects, which means that others can download his programs and modify the source code for free. Bellard’s reason for doing this is simple: He doesn’t care about fame or money. He’s more interested in making apps that are fun and useful. When asked why the project covers so many areas, Bellard responds:

“I often get bored doing the same thing all the time, so I change direction every now and then.”

Bellard is willing to share his work with everyone in the world in the hope that it will help them.

An article abroad once described him as follows:

What makes Bellard unique is that he has created a lot of programs that are meaningful to others and can be used by others.

Academic careers

Bellard’s education in the Ecole Polytechnique (Paris Polytechnic) has had the greatest impact on him. The 200-year-old French school has produced three Nobel Prize winners, a Fields Medal winner, three French presidents and CEOs of numerous major French and international companies. The school offers a wide range of courses, focusing on developing students’ critical thinking and providing them with rich learning resources.

During his 5 years here, Bellard grew rapidly, and many of his later projects were completed by students during the Ecole Polytechnique, which laid a solid foundation for his outstanding achievements in the field of computer science.

Bellard believes that the two most important aspects of computer science are:

  • Study how computers work
  • Through the development of computer languages and the study of computing itself, different ways of using computers can be obtained

His attention to the calculation theory is due to the education he received in the ECOLE Polytechnique.

To this day, he believes that aspiring computer scientists must have a deep understanding of computers through assembly language and computer hardware.

Mathematical challenges

As mentioned earlier, Bellard was also successful in mathematics: in 2001, Bellard used a program he developed to print the largest known prime number at the time. On December 31, 2009, Bellard made news when he calculated the value of PI to 2.7 trillion decimal places in 90 days using a desktop computer at home. The figure broke the world record at the time. Bellard was featured in the French edition of Scientific American.

With all the media coverage, Bellard has been pushed to the front. With so many questions pouring in as curiosity mounted, he has posted a FAQ section on his website dedicated to answering the most frequently asked questions.

When asked why he used an ordinary computer to calculate PI, he replied:

“I was not particularly interested in PI itself, but in the variety of algorithms involved in performing arbitrary-precision arithmetic. Optimizing these algorithms for good performance is a difficult programming challenge.

Calculating the number of digits behind the decimal point of Pi has almost no practical use, but some of the algorithms involved are interesting, and the whole process has other implications as well, such as:

  • Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT). It is used in a wide range of algorithms and is found in most modern electronic devices such as digital televisions, mobile phones and music players.
  • Reliable management of large amounts of disk storage (at least for a single computer). To ensure high reliability and disk I/O bandwidth, specific methods need to be developed. This approach can also be applied to other domains, such as video streaming or database access.
  • The whole calculation process is also a comprehensive test of the computer (including CPU, RAM, disk storage and cooling system). Any single error in the calculation can lead to bad results, such as poor heat dissipation and a hardware failure.”

When asked if he could recommend books for learning arbitrary precision calculations, Bellard suggested the following two:

  • Modern Computer Arithmetic by Richard Brent and Paul Zimmermann, version 0.4, November 2009

  • The Art of Computer Programming, volume 2 :  Seminumerical Algorithms by Donald E. Knuth, Addison-Wesley, third edition, 1998.

The first can be in https://members.loria.fr/PZim… The second book is The Art of Computer Programming Volume 2: Semi-Numerical Algorithms (Third Edition) by Gartner, which has been published by the Turing Community, Posts and Telecommunications Press.

It can be seen that Bellard’s calculation of PI is not in pursuit of a single mathematical result, but rather, as he puts it, an attack on the more difficult challenge of optimizing the algorithm to improve the computer’s performance.

Perhaps this is the world of geniuses, who constantly push themselves, enjoy the joy of solving a problem, and then move on to the next problem once solved.


In 2012, Fabrice Bellard and Frank Spinelli founded Amarisoft, a software company focused on telecommunications and dedicated to providing high quality solutions for the 4G/5G community.

In the company profile, there is the following introduction:

Our world unique LTE software suite runs on standard (COTS) hardware (including PHY layer). Amarisoft technology accelerates the process of building products like _eNodeB__,_ Core network _or_ NB-IoT _and_ vRAN _based solutions._

The unique core technology of Amarisoft must have been the product of Fabrice Bellard’s hard work.

The LTE base station that Bellard mentioned at the beginning of the article spent 10 months writing is the company’s product. In recent years, Bellard has focused most of its efforts on LTE soft base stations.


If you ask who the world’s greatest and lowest profile programmers are, Fabrice Bellard is one of them.

On the Internet, you can hardly find any personal interviews with Bellard, any traces of his personal life, and even a few photos of him. He politely declined most media coverage. In his few interviews, Bellard has only answered technical questions, such as one in which he was asked about his personal life by a French journalist:

** Journalist: Hello Fabrice, can you tell me a little about yourself? 支那

Fabrice Berra: I don’t want to talk much about it except that I’m the developer of FFMPEG and QEMU and other projects. *

In 2009, the year he broke the world record for PI, Bellard gave a fairly simple answer when repeatedly asked who he was:

There are probably few programmers in the world who are as prolific and as humble as Fabrice Bellard.

Finally, here is an image of Fabrice Bellard’s projects over the years:

To learn more about Fabrice Bellard, visit his personal page: https://bellard.org/


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki… \_Bellard







Hello, everyone, LivevideoStack has launched a new column called “Legend of Sound and Shadow,” which introduces you to the gods who have made outstanding contributions to the field of audio and video. For the first issue, we chose Fabrice Bellard, a talented French programmer whose FFMPEG is an indispensable tool in the development of audio and video technology. Bellard is one of the most prolific programmers in the world. We’ve selected just a few representative works to write about. Please add them in the comments, and you’re most welcome to provide clues about the characters in the next episode.

Special thanks to Mr. Liu Qi for the information about Fabrice Bellard and to Mr. Zhao Jun for his review of this article. Mr. Liu Qi and Mr. Zhao are also supporters of the FFMPEG community.

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