Happy Pi Day to you

Today, 14 March, is known among sad mathematicians as Pi Day, because 3.14 is the three-digit approximation of pi. (For those whose maths is rusty, that’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.)

Apparently the nerdier mathematicians do not start their Pi Day celebrations until precisely 1.59pm, on the basis that the six-digit approximation of pi is 3.14159. However, the most obsessive among them will already have finished partying because they insist that the six-digit version happens at 1.59am, arguing that 1.59pm is actually 13:59 if one uses the 24-hour clock.

You really didn’t want to know all that, did you? And you no doubt do not want to know that Pi Day includes such uninhibited events as listening to lectures about pi and engaging in pi-related mathematical puzzles.

Revellers may also sing bawdy songs such as “Happy Pi Day to you / Happy Pi Day to you / Happy Pi Day everybody / Happy Pi Day to you”.

(And if you don’t believe me, see )

As a mathematical heretic I can think of more convivial ways of celebrating Pi Day. And that is why my family’s dessert tonight will be a juicy apple pi(e), some 30cm across with a perimeter of roughly 94cm.

If all that is not enough, you may wish to note that some radical dissidents refuse to celebrate Pi Day on 14 March, choosing instead to observe the festivities on 22 July. (And if you can’t see why, I should keep quiet about it.)

Which reminds me. A friend, now retired, is still traumatised by an experience at school some 50 years ago when his class was asked if any of them knew the value of pi. He raised his hand and said “3.14159”.

The teacher looked at him scornfully, turned to the blackboard, chalked up a calculation of the value of 22/7 and triumphantly announced that the young know-it-all was wrong and the value of pi was actually 3.142857 (recurring).

I shall now go and lie down for a while.

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