Every year on March 14, math lovers around the country celebrate pi. Some enthusiasts even go so far as to mark Pi Minute at 1:59, which takes into account the first six digits of the pi: 3.14159. Pi Day provides the perfect excuse for incorporating math and geometry into all aspects of the school day.
What Is Pi?
Pi is the circumference of a circle (the distance around the circle) divided by its diameter (the distance across). In other words, the circumference of any circle is approximately 3.14 times its diameter. Because pi is an irrational number, it has an infinite number of digits. No matter how many decimal places we calculate, pi will always be an approximation.
Because pi is the same for every circle, we can use it to determine the diameter if we know the circumference, or vice versa. And when we know the diameter, it’s easy to calculate the area.
The History of Pi
From ancient China to Babylonia, mathematicians have been puzzling over pi for thousands of years. A Brief History of Pi explains the history of this fascinating number.
Since pi goes on forever, even the most powerful supercomputers will never know all of pi’s digits. But that doesn’t stop people from trying! In 2002, a team of mathematicians at the University of Tokyo broke the record, using computers to calculate pi to 1,241,100,000,000 decimal places.