Happy Pi Day

Happy Pi Day

As well being the birthday of Albert Einstein, the 14th of March also happens to be Pi Day. Although not as significant or important (or as useful) as Towel Day which follows a mere 72 days later on May 25, we feel at TechVo that we should do our best to commemorate the occasion.

Pi is determined by a circle’s circumference beiing divided by its diameter. It does not matter how large the circle is so we have a resulting constant which denotes the ratio between the diameter and the circumference as always being approximately 3.14. Which so happens to be today’s date. (If you are in North America.) Pi Day officially begins at 1.59pm.

In the spirit of Brainpickings and OpenCulture we have decided to curate some items available on the web that shows some of the practical utility and cultural importance of pi.

That the whole universe is constructed in such a way that a simple relationship between a shape and one its mathematical properties can be so powerful and important is a source of fascination and wonder. Even if you don’t care for the math, the fact that these constants exist and that we can use them to further our own understanding of the world around us is something to celebrate.

The symbol for pi comes from the Greek word for periphery
and nothing to do with
depicting and symbolising parts of Stonehenge.

In the image at the top of the page we have the first 1,000 digits of pi. As pi is an irrational number it produces a non repeating pattern of digits. Do they stretch on to infinity?

No one knows. Alexander Yee and Shgeru Kondo have processed pi to 10 trillion places and no pattern has been discovered. Once a pattern occurs pi becomes finite which should make things interesting in a philosophical sense.

If all mathematical constants such as pi could be absolutely determined then there would be no way to prove the existence of infinity. But anything finite has an edge so what do we edge onto?

On a lighter note,my favourite trip around pi:

This was all done with dominos which places it under firmly under the heading of something to do while waiting for the sun to come out:

We were going to add a musical section but it was hard to pick a winner. Although many were clever they tended to reflect the composer’s own musical milieu.

At the Pi10k you can select your own notes and a key to play them in. An algorithm will map your selection to the number pi up to 10,000 digits. Even within the limits of the program it is hard not to be hypnotized by the results.

If this is the first you have heard of Pi Day then your time available for celebrating the day may be confined to some minor socializing this evening. But don’t despair — Towel Day — a global event you can really look forward to and participate in, is only 72 days away so you might just want to prepare yourself properly (get a new towel) and conserve your energy for that particular shindig.


3 thoughts on “Happy Pi Day

  1. It is interesting to note that despite knowing pi to the millionth, billionth place, etc., it only takes pi to five decimal places, 3.14159, to be able to calculate the Earth’s circumference from the Earth’s diameter to an accuracy of 10 metres. On a par with the accuracy of most standard civilian GPS devices.(pi * d = c)3.14159 x 12,756.28 = 40,075.04Figures from WolframAlpha http://www.wolframalpha.com/in


  2. I have since gathered that my notion of infinity put forward here was not wholly accurate. It seems the universe can be infinite and bounded at the same time. There can exist finite entities such as a circle that are infinite in terms of a beginning and an end to its circumference but clearly have a bound form. In the same we can have an infinite amount of numbers between two integers. It doesn’t alter the phenomena of pi as expressed here – just adding a perspective


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