Pi Day: What is Pi and Why Do We Celebrate It?

Jamison Cush: Today is a day for desserts and the most notorious number of all time. March 14, is lovingly recognized by math, science, and oddity aficionados as Pi Day, or 3/14, in the US. The well-known first three digits of Pi, begins with 3.14, but goes on forever, literally. As you might remember from geometry class, Pi is the ratio of a circle circumference to its diameter. It’s crucial for most branches of math and consequently real life applications like physics, rocket science, building design, and highway construction. It’s an irrational number, meaning the decimal places go on infinitely, but with no infinitely repeated pattern. Even though NASA only requires 15 digits of Pi to send rockets into space, and 40 digits to measure the size of the universe. computer scientists and mathematicians are constantly competing to more accurately measure Pi. The first computer attempt to measure Pi was in 1949, a room size computer dubbed Giant Brain took 70 hours to generate 2037 decimal places. The most recent record break came in 2019. Google employee Emma Haruka Iwao and her team computed Pi to 31.4 trillion decimal places, almost 9 trillion more than the previous record. Using cloud technology, Google Compute Engine, as well as a specialized program called y-cruncher, the process took 121 days, 25 virtual machines, and 170 terabytes, or roughly the same amount of data as the entire Library of Congress’s print collections, according to Google. Tell us how many digits of Pi you can recite without cheating in the comments below. And please hit that like button.

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