Today I spent an enjoyable time at Pi-hunting – the story of a mathematical obsession, run by the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) at the British Science Festival 2010.

Part of this included a presentation by Noel-Ann Bradshaw on mnemonics to remember the digits of pi. An example is the following:

How I wish I could calculate pi.

Look at the number of digits in each word in this sentence. The first word has 3 letters, the second 1, the third 4, and so on. It makes 3141592, the first seven digits of pi. Another example given, faithfully and quickly recorded by Mary Perkins:

How I like a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics.

There are longer versions including some which are much longer; for example this story encodes the first 740 digits. This is more an example of constrained writing than a useful mnemonic.

Noel-Ann raised the challenge to the audience to come up with their own and so I thought I’d pass this on to you. On the train on the way home I had a go at a tweet-length version (ignore punctuation, including the #):

Now I away,

I leave enlivened by having great and happy

historic, enjoyable, happily unanimous joy

at the exciting BSHM #pihunt

This is topical, although I’m not sure how well it might help you remember pi, but I think we’ve lost track of that original point, haven’t we?

So you can leave yours in a comment below or, even better, why not tweet it using the hashtag #pihunt. This can be any length, just stop at the number of digits that suits you. To help, just in case you can’t remember them all, here are some digits of pi:

3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510…

I made up the following mnemonic for pi to 30 decimal places when I was feeling a bit tetchy:

All I need, I think, providing it yields peace all along whenever pestering persons telephone, may be one computer with modem(s) to safely “surf the net” – blocking out, by stealth, annoyance!