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Doodling for π day

It’s that time of year again – 3.14 (March 14th), a.k.a π day, is just around the corner, and if you want to do something fun on the day, now’s the time to plan it. One nice way to celebrate this brilliant infinite string of digits is by creating π-inspired art, and we’ve spotted a couple of relevant links if that’s your jam.

  • Maths learning organisation (and Carnival of Mathematics stalwarts) Ganit Charcha are running a competition for schools in India, challenging them to ‘Doodle for π‘ – students should take inspiration from a mathematical concept, and create a doodle/image to submit. The competition invites creativity and imagination, and runs until 12th March.
  • If you’re not in India, you can still use π as inspiration for artworks – Think Maths speaker and Aperiodical Math-off contestant Zoe Griffiths has put together a set of ideas for how to use π to create beautiful pictures, to decorate your home, school or office.

The IMU wants to make π Day the International Day of Mathematics

The International Mathematical Union is trying to get UNESCO to make March 14, commonly known as π Day, the International Day of Mathematics.

“π – It’s Complicated” – a talk I gave on Pi Day 2016 at Ustinov College Café Scientifique

I was invited to give a talk for Ustinov College’s Café Scientifique on π Day this year. The turnout wasn’t great and I put quite a bit of effort into the slides, so I wanted to put it online. I’ve finally got hold of the recording, so here it is. Unfortunately they didn’t set the camera’s exposure properly, making the screen illegible, so you’ll probably want to follow along with the slides in another window.

I tried to come up with a way of writing today’s date as a multiple of π Day, but couldn’t make it work. However, I did realise that Halloween (31/10) is the best approximation to π between now and the next π day (I think). Sπooky!

Ohioans measure a really big π


Ohio State University mathematician Niles Johnson got in touch on Friday to tell us that our π Approximation Challenge last year had inspired him to hatch an audacious plan to measure a really big π.

The word ‘geometry’ is derived from the Greek for ‘measurement of land’, and Dr. Johnson took that quite literally: he wanted to measure the Great Circle Earthworks in Heath, Ohio; a part of the Newark Earthworks (not their original name) built over 2,000 years ago.

Improbable John Conway/Pizza Hut collaboration for π day

John Conway, here pictured browsing the character table of $Fi_{23}$

Restaurant chain Pizza Hut in the US have announced a promotion for “Pi Day” on March 14, involving an unlikely partnership with renowned group-theorist, Life-wrangler and apparent pizza-lover John Conway. (Apparently, pizza and pie are somehow linked in America. It is probably best not to worry about this.)

Featuring on their blog as the inaugural post under the optimistic tags ‘math‘ and ‘John Conway‘, they explain that three maths puzzles set by Conway will be posted on Pi Day, “varying in level of difficulty from high school to Ph.D. level”. Residents of the 48 contiguous US states can leave their answers in the comments when the puzzles are posted, and the winners receive a 3.14-year supply of pizza (or, as the rules clarify, a somewhat more prosaic $1600 Pizza Hut gift card).

Obviously we will have to wait for the questions to be unveiled to be able to judge the appropriate level of excitement for this promotion, but with Conway involved, no maths-is-really-hard nonsense in the blog post, and not a formula for the perfect anything in sight, things are looking promising for a nice bit of harmless maths/poor childhood diet fun.

More information

Pizza Hut partners with mathematician John H. Conway for National Pi Day math contest – the blog post announcing the competition

John Conway on Wikipedia

A geometrical approximation for π

If you were paying very close attention last week, you’ll have noticed my attempt to come up with an estimate of π, geometrically, as part of The Aperiodical’s π Day challenge (even if it’s not really π Day):