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Topic: Pi Day ideas
Replies: 1   Last Post: Mar 22, 2011 1:28 PM

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kirby urner

Posts: 2,762
Registered: 11/29/05
Pi Day ideas
Posted: Mar 20, 2011 3:28 PM
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What we did at work around Pi Day was to invite students,
alumni, to check out a famous Ramanujan convergent series
for 1/pi, and to flip it over to compare with 1001 published
digits. I posted the unit test to edu-sig (Python Nation).
The challenge was met by Horacio, a student of mathematics
at the University of Havana, with a background in computers.

In the context of doing the research for this little Facebook
challenge, I came across Vi Hart's manifesto against pi.
I'd been unaware of this media campaign to introduce
tau = 2 * pi, as just as important a number, deserving of
press. It's the ratio of the circumference to the radius.

Without explicitly siding with Vi's political position, I
can see why more focus on tau (the Greek letter) might
redound to my benefit, as I consider phi a useful number
to dwell on, a cornerstone of Pentagon Math, and tau is
often used for phi's reciprocal (and vice versa, if the
ugly truth be known).

Yes, I'd be taking advantage of a "name collision" between
two namespaces -- not the first time such has happened, to
someone's advantage.

Both pi and phi may be expressed conveniently as continued
fractions. Milo Gardner on mathfuture is pretty sure that
such animals as continued fractions, along with much of
the number theory stuff (to which group theory adheres),
were sliced out of the USA client market thanks to the
wave of anti-German sentiment that swept through academia
in the wake of WW1. A more Gaussian garden was pulled up
by the roots and replaced with more Euclid. A fascinating
thesis which I have not personally found a way to
corroborate. A comprehensive treatise on intellectual
currents (including fads) on math education, would be most
welcome. Suggestions?

Back to the Pi challenge, many math languages, such as
Mathematica, will export Pi to N digits. Selecting the
obscure Ramanujan formula was a way of getting coders to
fall back on their own devices. Having extended
(arbitrary) precision decimals certainly helps. The
challenge was open to any language. Of course we're not
pioneering any new territory in expanding pi to a paltry
1000 digits. This was more about helping students become
aware of Ramanujan, math history, and language features.
This was also a community-building exercise.


Unit test for pi, with two solutions:

Vi's video blog:

Pi and Phi as continued fractions:

Milo Gardner:

Date Subject Author
Read Pi Day ideas
kirby urner
Read Re: Pi Day ideas
kirby urner

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