When is Pi Day and Why Do We Celebrate It?

Photo Courtesy: alexey05/Unsplash

Mathematics isn’t all 1’s and 0’s; a cavalcade of formulas, theorems and expressions exist that challenge the mind and encourage non-linear thinking. That’s where Pi comes in. This mathematical constant offers a myriad of useful applications. It also has a name that’s incredibly fun to say.

The first three numbers of Pi are 3, 1, and 4 – hence why you’ll see people express Pi as 3.14. In reality, there are well over 62 trillion digits in Pi. Mathematicians regularly hold Pi recitation contests to see who can calculate the most digits, but anyone can get in on the fun.

Why Do People Celebrate Pi Day?

Photo Courtesy: DebbiSmirnoff/iStock

We have Larry Shaw to thank for this mind-boggling holiday. Shaw pioneered Pi Day back in 1988 while he was working at the Exploratorium – a unique arts, science, and tech museum in San Francisco, California. According to legend, Shaw was captivated by mathematical constants and how they applied to everyday life. During a company retreat, Shaw pitched the idea of celebrating Pi on March 14 to honor the first three numbers of Pi.

Shaw’s co-workers gravitated towards the idea and held a small party where pies were the centerpiece dish. In 1989, Shaw and his team held their party at the Exploratorium proper and invited many more guests to the festivities. The celebration grew in size and scope each year, and celebrants continued the tradition even when they traveled abroad. Rather quickly, Pi Day grew from a small event to a global celebration.

Is Pi a real number?

Photo Courtesy: domin_domin/iStock
ADVERTISEMENT

Absolutely! Pi is a real number, as all numbers that exist on a number line are real. Real numbers include all rational and irrational numbers, and Pi is defined as an irrational number.

There are several categories that refer to types of numbers. Numbers that aren’t real numbers include imaginary and complex numbers. Imaginary numbers are all numbers that are divisible by “i”, or the square root of a negative one.

Rational numbers are those that can be written as a simple fraction. Therefore, 0.11111… (repeating) is a rational number because it can be written as 1/9, but pi is not a rational number because there is no fraction that is equal to the number Pi.

ADVERTISEMENT