March 14^{th} is Pi Day! Why? Because the date resembles the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter—and that number begins with 3.14.

The word pi comes from the Greek letter “π”, which was used to express the number in the 18^{th} century. However, Welsh mathematics teacher William Jones is often credited with the first use of the symbol in 1706.

The infinite number is exceptionally ancient. Researchers have found various civilizations calculating the approximations of pi, including Egyptians, Babylonians, and there is even a reference to the dimensions of a circle in the Bible. But the first calculation of pi as the number 3.14 is attributed to Greek mathematician, Archimedes of Syracuse, who lived in the third century B.C.

In 1988, physicist Larry Shaw organized a celebration at the San Francisco Exploratorium science museum to commemorate what is now known as “Pi Day”.

The U.S. House of Representatives even got involved in the celebration in 2009 when they passed a resolution designating March 14^{th} as “National Pi Day” to hopefully encourage younger generations to pursue the study of mathematics.

**What is so special about π?**

Pi is a mathematical constant, meaning it isn’t changed by the size of the number it’s used to equate. It is an irrational number as it is made of an infinite number of digits that never repeat. Pi is the key to equations calculating the area of a circle, *A=πr2*, and the volume of a cylinder, *V=πr2h.*

With the advancement of computer technology, calculating the most digits in pi has become somewhat of a race between mathematicians. The current record is held by physicist Peter Trueb, who calculated pi to 22.4 trillion digits—22,459,157,718,361—just to be exact. This beat the previous record by 9 million digits.

However, only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion lab only uses 15 digits to calculate interplanetary travel, while mathematician, James Grime argues that 39 digits of pi is what is needed to calculate the circumference of the known universe.

**Celebrating Pi Day**

The pun-filled pi day is full of circular treats, like pies, pizzas, cakes, and cookies. Many dress up like Albert Einstein, whose birthday also happens to fall on the math filled day. And the San Francisco Exploratorium still hosts their annual day of pi celebration.

This irrational and transcendental number has become somewhat of a fun challenge to memorize for some.

So, go ahead! Try to memorize as much of pi as possible! Good luck, and Happy Pi Day!

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