March 14th is known as Pi day and it is celebrated by mathematicians and foodies all around the world. It gives the people a chance to combine their love for math and deserts. Centuries have passed and people’s fascination with the infinite decimal. But where did it come from and why are people still infatuated with it?
Simply defined, Pi is the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter. No matter the size of the circle, Pi remains the same. It is the world’s most famous irrational number and holds a lot of intrigue for math students of all ages. It can’t be represented by a formal integer because it is an infinite decimal.
It still does not stop people from memorizing as many digits as possible. Lu Chao from China can recite 67,000 decimal places of Pi. Computing powers have discovered Pi to be currently at 200 million digits and it is still counting.
Pi gets its name from the Greek alphabet and dates back nearly 4,000 years. The earliest understandings of Pi were calculated to be 3.125 and Egyptians calculations of 3.1605 have been traced back to 1650 BC. Archimedes of Syracuse was the first person to calculate Pi formally using the Pythagorean Theorem. He concluded that pi’s values were somewhere between 3 1/7 and 3 10/71.
A lot of businesses celebrate Pi day by celebrating both math and food. Google Doodle also featured the pastry chef Dominique Ansel crafting a tasty representation of the Greek alphabet. “Today’s delectable Doodle – baked & built by award-winning pastry chef and creator of the Cronut, Dominique Ansel – pays homage to this well-rounded mathematical constant by representing the pi formula (circumference divided by diameter) using — what else — pie!” said Google.
However, there is a growing number of mathematicians around the world who refuse to recognize Pi day. The first complaint comes from the order in which Americans write their dates compared to most of the world. The U.S. is one of a handful of countries that writes their dates Month/Day/Year; a lot stick to Day/Month/Year. In the latter format, Pi Day would be an impossibility.