The Magic of Math: What Is Pi Day and Why Is It Celebrated?

March 15, 2023 | By: Extramarks

Pi Day

Did you know that Pi, represented by the Greek symbol π, is the most widely studied number in the world of mathematics? In fact, the mathematical constant also gets its own annual celebration which is marked as Pi Day and is celebrated by people worldwide on March 14. Today, this iconic irrational number has become part of popular culture with memorization competitions, games, art, songs, and even an eponymous movie. 

In this blog, we cover everything you need to know about Pi Day, why it is celebrated, and some fun facts that will take you by surprise. So let’s begin!  

What is Pi (π)?

Pi essentially represents the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a circle. But what is the exact number? Since the dawn of history, mathematicians have been trying to narrow it down to a specific number. The value of Pi is an irrational transcendental number. It is not exactly equivalent to 3.14 or 3.1456 or even 3.147869475 for that matter. It is an infinitely long, never-ending number that is popularly known by its first two decimals – 3.14. 

The π symbol was first introduced by Welsh mathematician William Jones in 1706 and was later popularized by Leonhard Euler. The value of Pi has ancient origins and is a key part of Egyptian mythology. It finds applications across mathematics, architecture, physics, engineering, space exploration and so much more. But what makes this number so special that it is celebrated around the world? Let’s find out. 

Why do we Celebrate Pi Day?

Each year, scientists and math lovers globally celebrate Pi Day as a commemoration of the mathematical constant Pi. It was first celebrated in 1988 at Exploratorium, a museum of science and technology in San Francisco. It was founded by physicist Larry Shaw, who was an employee of the museum. Many years later, in 2019, at UNESCO’s 40th General Conference, it was declared that Pi Day would be observed as the International Day of Mathematics. It is a great chance to celebrate the importance of Pi and really bring fun and math together, proving that they are not mutually exclusive. This year marks the 36th year of Pi Day being officially celebrated at the Exploratorium, where it first originated.  

When is Pi Day in 2023?

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) every year as three, one, and four mark the first three significant figures of Pi in its decimal representation. To take it a step further, people also begin their Pi Day celebrations at exactly 1:59 PM, which signifies the three digits after 3.14 (3.14159) March 14th also marks Albert Einstein’s birthday. 

Archimedes, the Syracuse mathematician was the first to calculate the actual value of this infinite number. 

Here are Some Fun Facts About Pi 

Three facts Pi Day
3 Fun Facts about Pi Day

1. Pi is also known as ‘the circular constant’, ‘Ludolph’s number’, and ‘Archimedes constant’ 

2. Every year, the Exploratorium Science Museum holds a circular parade on Pi Day

3. The earliest record of Pi was by an Egyptian scribe called Ahmes (c. 1650 BCE) He was off by less than one percent of the modern approximation of Pi

4. Pi has an entire language dedicated to it which is known as Pilish. Mike Keith, an American mathematician wrote an entire book called ‘Not a Wake’ in Polish. 

5. Rajveer Meena holds the record for reciting the highest number of decimal places of Pi. He recited 70,000 decimal places while being blindfolded, which took approximately ten hours

6. According to the Guinness World Records, the most accurate value of Pi is over 62 trillion digits (precisely 62,831,853,071,796) and was calculated by the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, Switzerland

7. As per ancient Egyptian mythology, people believed that the pyramids of Giza were built based on the principles of Pi

8. Besides mathematics, Pi has also been used to calculate the orbits around planets, the spherical volume of the universe and how ripples in water carry energy 

Now that you know all about Pi Day, think of this celebration as a chance to learn and strengthen your mathematical concepts. Get guidance from experts and manage all your learning needs with the Extramarks Learning App.

Last Updated on October 12, 2023

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