Pi Day pies. (Flickr user Dennis Wilkinson/Thinkstock)
Happy Pi Day!

March 14, when written as 3/14, represents the first three digits of pi. It is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. To celebrate the world's most famous mathematical constant, enthusiasts around the world embrace their inner nerdiness. They celebrate Pi Day.

The date also happens to be Einstein's birthday. It inspires a variety of events every year. Last year was the ultimate Pi Day, as adding the year to the date notation, 3/14/15, encompassed even more digits in the sequence. We won't get this much pi again for 100 years.

Just why are people crazy about pi? The number is 3 followed by an endless string of random numbers after the decimal point. It is irrational. That means it cannot be expressed through the division of two whole numbers. It is also a transcendental number. That means that it isn't the root of any algebraic number. This irrational and transcendental nature appeals to people. Perhaps it is because pi's continuous flow of digits reflects the unending circle it helps to trace.

Pi has held an almost mystical quality to humans throughout time. Its unspoken presence can be felt in the circular ruins of Stonehenge, in the vaulted ceilings of domed Roman temples and in the celestial spheres of Plato and Ptolemy. It has inspired centuries of mathematical puzzles and some of humanity's most iconic artwork.

People spend years of their lives attempting to memorize its digits. Contests are held to see who knows the most numbers after the decimal. Some people write "piaku."  Those are poems in which the number of letters in each word represents subsequent digits of pi. Other people create complex works of art. They are inspired by the randomness of pi. The list goes on and on, like pi itself.

How are you celebrating Pi Day?

Filed Under:
Assigned 379 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What would happen if pi = 3.2?

• diwans1-lin
3/11/2016 - 02:47 p.m.

If pi=3.2, Pi Day would be on March 2. Also, it wouldn't be Einsteins birthday if Pi Day was March 2. One thing I can't believe is people that try to remember the digits of pi for years. I wonder why someone would bother to memorize pi as it goes on forever.

• kayleeu-2-bar
3/11/2016 - 07:27 p.m.

If pi=3.2 then pi day would be on march 2nd. Also if pi=3.2 then pi day wouldn't also be on Einstein's birthday. Pi day is on march 14 because the three represents the month march and the 14 is represented by the first two digits in the pi sequence.

• michaely-6-bar
3/11/2016 - 07:49 p.m.

If pie was 3.2 it would be solve able. As of now pie goes on forever and ever. I think it would be cool if pie was not infinite but then that would affect math classes ariund the world.

• tysenn-ver
3/11/2016 - 11:27 p.m.

I found it interesting that Pi day relates to the romans and goes so far back. I also found it interesting that you can go into the romans place and you can feel this presence of something being there. If pi=3.2 I think that a lot of national equations would be different from what they are now.

3/12/2016 - 08:49 p.m.

If pi was 3.2, it wouldn't be irrational or transcendental. It would just be any other number. It wouldn't be special or mystical. It wouldn't be a challenge to memorize it because it would just be 3.2. Also, it wouldn't be on Einstein's birthday, not to mention that it wouldn't even make a circle!

• jackr-2-bar
3/13/2016 - 12:21 a.m.

If pi was 3.2 pi day which is currently on March fourteenth would be on March second. This would be funny because that is Albert Einstein's birthday. Since Einstein is a mathematician and a physicist it would be a coincidence that both pi day and eisteins birthday are on the same day. This article is interesting because we are doing a pi day activity in math class.

• michaelf-kut
3/13/2016 - 11:53 a.m.

If pi=3.2, then the number wouldn't be as special. It would be a terminating decimal, instead of a repeating one("The number is 3 followed by an endless string of random numbers after the decimal point."). Pi day would be March 2, but if the number was less special, would it even have it's own day? I think the reason that pi is as popular as it is, is because it doesn't end. People try to memorize the digits to it, and poems are written with special themes/rules that relate to it. If it was just 3.2, memorizing it would be easy, and the poems probably wouldn't exist.

• isaach-kut
3/14/2016 - 07:38 a.m.

if Pi was 3.2 then it would be March 2nd. Also its Einsteins birthday. I had no idea Pi day was this important

• emmetts-kut
3/14/2016 - 07:42 a.m.

I didn't even know pi day existed until now. My Question is why is "pi" so special?

• josiahm-kut
3/14/2016 - 07:51 a.m.

I'm so glad pi day is finally here. First of all we get to celebrate this amazing infinite number but we also we get to eat all the pie that we can shove into our mouths. if Pi=3.2 then Pi day would be on march second meaning it wouldn't be Einsteins birthday and it would make Pi a rational number. it would also mean that Pi is non-transcendental number so almost none of the qualities that pi has now would be true.