Here’s why Pi Day 2016 is 3.1416-times better than normal Pi Day

14 Mar 2016

Thanks to the unique way Americans write their days and months, 14 March is Pi Day, but this year’s day is that little bit more special as it marks what some mathematicians are calling ‘Rounded Pi Day’.

In reality, Pi Day 2016 is no different to the other Pi Days that have been celebrated since the first one was informally marked in 1988, but today marks something a bit more special for lovers of the mathematical constant.

If you look at the first six digits of pi, you’ll see that the number is 3.14159, which, when rounded, sees it written as 3.1416, therefore making today’s date what has been called ‘Rounded Pi Day’.

Although, last year was arguably a larger celebration given that those who weren’t in the mood to round the number saw 14 March 2015 as being a truer representative of the day than today.

Another interesting fact to note is that Pi Day also marks the birthday of a certain famous physicist who would have known an awful lot about pi and its properties, that person being Albert Einstein.

A little bit of history repeating

As for a little history lesson on pi, the first calculation of the mathematical constant has long been debated, with some claiming the ancient Egyptians used an approximation of pi using fractions, however there is very little credible evidence to support this.

Rather, the first recorded use of an algorithm to determine pi has been credited to the Greek scholar Archimedes around 250BC using polygons.

Of course, things have come on quite a bit since pi was first calculated, with the number now calculated to a number 13.3trn digits in length.

Given its importance to mathematics, the US House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day in 2009 as a national day, with the rest of the world following suit, at least unofficially.

So, happy Rounded Pi Day, everyone, and don’t forget there’s more to pi than just the number!

Boston Cream Pi image via Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic