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Pi Day 2015: The Aperiodical goes π mad

Happy π day everyone! I hope you’re having a great day, and having lots of fun mathematical parties.

You may have noticed that here at The Aperiodical, we’ve been posting exciting π-related items all week – and here’s a list of them all, collected into one handy place. Enjoy!

π and constrained writing

It’s a tool; a ratio, providing us simple rules for doing circular estimates. Admired regularly – and we all remember that today’s pi! Hooray! Let’s eat pie.

You may have noticed that the first paragraph of this article was immensely poorly written, and didn’t sound like good writing at all. And you’d be right – except writing it wasn’t easy as you’d think. I’ve written it under a constraint – that is, I’ve picked an arbitrary rule to follow, and have had to choose my words carefully in order to do so.

Interesting π Esoterica

My way of celebrating π day is to rummage through my trove of obscure writings and dig up some interesting esoterica on the subject of that constant. Here’s what I found.

In case you’re new to this: every now and then I encounter a paper or a book or an article that grabs my interest but isn’t directly useful for anything. It might be about some niche sub-sub-subtopic I’ve never heard of, or it might talk about something old from a new angle, or it might just have a funny title. I put these things in my Interesting Esoterica collection on Mendeley. And then when I’ve gathered up enough, I collect them here.

Pi Day on Twitter

We can’t hope to keep up with all the π action around the internet today, so here’s a live stream of #piday tweets.


I bought three.onefouronefivenine.com

threeonefouronefivenine

I’m a big fan of novelty domain names: I once bought hotmathematicians.com just so that christian@hotmathematicians.com could be my corresponding address when I submitted a paper. That domain has expired, but my love for one-shot novelty purchases has not!

To celebrate π day this year, I decided that it should be possible to type a little bit of π into the internet and be given the rest of it. You can have dots in domain names, so a domain like “three.something.com” is possible. I only know π to two decimal places off the top of my head, so I was dismayed to learn that onefour.com is being squatted.

After a bit of googling to find more digits of π (hey, this website will be really useful once I set it up!), I found the first decimal approximation which hasn’t already been registered:

three.onefouronefivenine.com

Try going there now. It really exists!

I’ve set it up so you get an endlessly scrolling list of decimal digits of π, generated using my favourite unbounded spigot algorithm. I suppose you can consider this my entry in our π approximation challenge.

A good π day’s work.

π approximation: Machin’s formula

In the excellent $\pi$ approximation video, Katie Steckles asked for $\pi$ approximations. I teach a first year techniques module (mostly calculus and a little complex numbers and linear algebra). This year I have changed a few bits in my module; in particular I gave some of my more numerical topics to the numerical methods module and took in return some of the more analytic bits from that module. This gives both modules greater coherence, but it means I have lost one of my favourite examples, from the Taylor series topic, which uses a Maclaurin series to approximate $\pi$.

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