All About Pi: Everything You Need to Know & Then Some

The concept of pi is deceivingly simple. Pi is the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter, and it always works out to 3.14′s But it’s those three “dot-dot-dots” that make pi so fascinating.

Pi is a never-ending number and that sense of infinity has attracted both advanced mathematicians as well as beginning math students for hundreds of years. This article breaks down some of the facts and mysteries about pi into four sections: Fun Facts About Pi, Advanced Facts About Pi, Pi in Pop Culture, and Sites and Resources About Pi. There’s information for everyone from the pi newbie to pi fans and math nerds alike.

Fun Facts About Pi

  • There is a computer called the Electronic Numeric Integrator and Computer (ENIC) that, in 1949, took 70 hours to figure out the first 2,037 decimal places of pi.
  • The state legislature of Indiana proposed a bill in 1897 that tried to ascertain the most exact value of pi.  The bill never passed.
  • The record for discovering the most number of digits of pi belongs to Fabrice Bellard.  He calculated 2.7 trillion decimal places on just a desktop computer.
  • March 14 is known as Pi Day because of its date: 3/14.  It is also the birthday of Albert Einstein, who was born in 1879.
  • The Greek letter Ï€ was selected to describe pi in 1706 by William Jones, an English mathematician.
  • It would take 12 billion digits of pi, typed in a normal-size font, to reach Kansas from New York City.
  • When people want to measure ripples emanating from a central point, they use pi.
  • The Guinness Book of World Records states that Lu Chao holds the world record for memorizing the most number of digits of pi.  He memorized 67,890 digits, which took him 24 hours and 4 minutes.
  • Feynman point is the name for the six nines in a row that start at decimal point number 762.
  • The number 1 is the most commonly occurring number in the first 100,000 decimal places of pi.  It occurs 10,137 times.

Advanced Facts About Pi

  • Pi is defined as the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter.
  • Pi is an irrational number, meaning it cannot be expressed as a fraction.
  • Pi is a transcendental number, a real number that is not algebraic, or in even more technical terms, a real number that cannot be a root of a polynomial equation with integer coefficients.
  • In advanced science and mathematics, pi is defined as twice the smallest positive x for which which cos(x) = 0.
  • The first ten digits of pi’s Engel extraction are 1, 1, 1, 8, 8, 17, 19, 300, 1991, and 2492.
  • Lindemann’s proof that proved that pi was transcendental, simultaneously proved that it is impossible to employ only a straightedge and a compass to construct a square that has equal area to a circle.
  • The first ten digits of the simple continued fraction for pi are 3, 7, 15, 1, 292, 1, 1, 1, 2, and 1.
  • The first five digits of the convergence of pi are 3, 22/7, 333/106, 355/113, and 103993/33102.
  • Pi is used to calculate both normal distributions and the distribution of prime numbers.
  • Pi is used in Buffon’s Needle Problem, a proof that determines the probability of whether a needle will land on a line or not when it is dropped onto a plane containing parallel lines.

Pi in Pop Culture & Other Fun Stuff

  • The Band: A Love Like Pi is a band that was founded in 2006.  They play electronic rock, and have two albums: A Love Like Pi EP and The Atlas and the Oyster.
  • Cartoons: Here are some cartoons about pi! (With some other numbers thrown in too).
  • The Contest: Can you solve the Pi Day challenge?  See if you can figure out this series of logic-based puzzles.
  • The Fragrance: Givenchy makes cologne for men called Pi.  It smells like citrus and forests and costs about $60.
  • A Math Class All About Pi:  This video teaches you all of the basic mathematical properties of pi.  It uses colored shapes, music, and an old school style narrator to make math more fun.
  • The Movie: This is a trailer for the 1998 movie Pi directed by Darren Aronofsky.  It’s about a lonely, paranoid mathematician named Max who believes that everything in life is governed by numbers.  His fixation on patterns brings him to the attention of certain unsavory characters who start pursuing him.  
  • The Movie (II): In this 1995 movie Sandra Bullock plays a computer software expert who stumbles across a nefarious online plot, which she solves by clicking on a pi symbol that appears on her computer screen.
  • The Music Video: This is a video about pi.  It has wizards, robots, and a graffiti artist in it.
  • Pi as Pie: This is a picture of pi, made out of pie.
  • Pi and Star Trek: Pi appeared in the season two Star Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”.  Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock are able to conquer an evil being by using their computer to calculate all of the decimal places of pi. 
  • The Song: Bye-Bye Miss American Pi: This is a parody of Don Mclean’s song “American Pie”, rewritten as “American Pi”.
  • The Song: Lose Yourself: This one is a parody of Eminem’s rap song “Lose Yourself”.  The original opening lyrics read “If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted” and the lyrics of the parody go “If you had on shot, one opportunity, to recite the digits of the number Pi”.
  • The Song: Pi: Musician Kate Bush recorded this song in 2005 that was composed of her singing the decimal places of pi with music in the background. 
  • The T-Shirt: This is a t-shirt brought to you by the clearly neardy company Pi-Dye T-Shirts. They have lots of fun math-related shirts.
  • TV: Pi as a Google Search: This is a clip from Google Current, a TV show that discusses what people are searching on Google each day. This segment is from Pi Day.

Sites and Resources About Pi

  • A History of Pi: This site contains historical information about the knowledge of pi through different historical eras.  Includes formulas, some of the unanswered questions about pi, as well as links to other pi-related resources.
  • Circumference of a Circle: This website contains a basic refresher course on the properties of the circumference of a circle, an integral part of what makes pi so special.  The site has facts, sample problems, and a quiz at the end to test what you know.
  • Cool Math: The Geometry of Circles: A brief, basic introduction into the various geometric properties of a circle.  The site has diagrams, formulas, and explanations of a circle’s radius, diameter, circumference, area, chord, arc, and the area of a sector. 
  • The Joy of Pi: A huge resource for virtually any pi-related questions.  Contains history of pi, advanced mathematical questions/proofs/theorems about pi, and a host of other pi-centered links.
  • Math.com: This site’s sections contain a history of pi, the first 1000 digits of pi, and formulas for pi-related proofs, among other information.
  • Math Forum: About Pi: Use this site to find answers to FAQs about pi.  The FAQs contain information about the history of pi, what sorts of mathematical problems involve pi, and many other interesting facts (and helpful links!) to other pi-related issues.
  • Math is Fun: Ideas and Resources for Pi Day: Math is Fun is a site whose target audience is mostly teachers learning about activities to use on Pi Day, but it is equally informative for students and just anyone interested in pi. There are links to many other sites about the history of pi, pi legends, and some songs and videos about pi (many of which can be found in the “Pop Culture Pi” section of this article!).
  • Mathworld: Pi Formulas: This site contains advance proofs and equations relating to pi.  Includes diagrams, graphs, and many complex equations.  There are also links to various other advanced mathematical resources.
  • Old Web: Download Up To 50 Million Digits of Pi: The title of this link says it all.  Want to download up to 50 million digits of pi onto your computer in gzip format?  If the answer’s yes, this site’s for you.
  • Old Web: The Pi Pages: This website boasts a host of information about pi.  Different sections include Pi Records, Pi People, Pi Literature, Pi News, and Pi Aesthetics.
  • Pi: A 2000 Year Search Changes Direction: This is a site for people who are interested in the advanced mathematical properties of pi.  It includes instruction on figuring out formulas and proofs, sum subtleties, hex digits, logs, and many other complex mathematical problems. 
  • Proof That Pi Exists: Another website that deals with complex mathematical issues surrounding pi.  This one uses logic to come to the conclusion that yes, pi does indeed exist.
  • The Pi Trivia Game: Use this website to test your knowledge about pi.  Its 25 questions range from pi history to the mathematical properties of pi.
  • A Spanish Pi Website: This site is much like the Joy of Pi website, except in Spanish.  It is a compilation of many different types of pi resources for Spanish language speakers.
  • Wikipedia: Pi: Wikipedia – one of the most commonly used websites for internet research – provides an in-depth look into various aspects of pi.  This site contains extensive sections on the history of Pi, Advanced Properties of Pi, Use in Mathematics and Science, and Pi in Pop Culture.

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