## Friday, March 14, 2008

### Who Else Is Going To The Pi Party?

Today we celebrate π or the Pi mathematical symbol !
In case you hadn't noticed it (like me until now) ,there has been a funny tradition since late 80's to celebrate π at the 14th of March. The reason? The number begins with π = 3.14, hence March,14. It is weird though I didn't see any of the doodles that Google usually puts on its homepage on such dates. If we can't honor pi we could do that for Albert Einstein, whose birthday is also today (March 14th).

Anyway. for a little 'history', π is an irrational number, i.e. its decimal (or any other) expansion is infinite and also non-periodical. As a number it is as old as the human civilization and as the ratio of the circle circumference to its diameter, it was first calculated (not precisely) even 2000 years BC. However it also participates in a lot of madness!

To explain there is for example a Guinness record for a Chinese who managed to spell out some dozens of thousands of pi digits! And without error of course! There are also poems that help you remember the pi digits. For example

One
A Poem
A Raven

Midnights so dreary, tired and weary,
Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap - the weirdest tap!
An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber's antedoor.
"This", I whispered quietly, "I ignore".
...

If you map each word to the number of its letters you will get:
One->3, A->1, Poem->4, A->1, Raven->5, Midnights->9, so->2, dreary->6 etc
that yields π = 3.1415926... and so on
This poem is called and it can compute the first 3834 digits! The name also comes from a game with pi digits: If we map every letter to its position in the alphabet for Cadaeic we will get 3-1-4-1-5-9-3 which represents an approximation of pi (3.141593) There are also songs(or rythms) that map the digits to notes (or time intervals) that can be of assistance also.Total madness!

There is also a 'visual representation' of the Pi madness, in the Pi movie (1998), where as far as I can remember there is a brilliant mathematician that tries to predict patterns in real life(for example in stock markets) using the pi digits. His anxious endeavor ends when he finally...puts a drill into his brain! It is a nice movie for math geeks and is directed from Darren Aronofsky(Requiem For A Dream).

Finally, a nice question for technical job interviews:
"What present would you make for Pi, if it was throwing a party?"
We will discuss possible answers tonight at the party. Be there!