Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Pi versus Tau

One of the major contributions Archimedes (287-212 B.C) made to mathematics was his method for approximating the value of Pi. For centuries, the number Pi, Greek letter (), has been the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. In 1761 Lambert proved that Pi was an irrational number, which means that the digits never end or repeat in any known way. Throughout history, mathematicians have been fascinated with calculating the digits of Pi. In 1999, millions of digits were calculated at the University of Tokyo using a computer. In 2011 the record was improved to 10 trillion digits.
Each year, Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 by math enthusiasts around the world (3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of p in the decimal form). The earliest known official or large-scale celebration of Pi Day was in 1988. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day. Pi Day has become very popular in the mathematics community.
There is now an online movement to celebrate Tau, the number you get when you use a circle's radius instead. Tau is approximately 6.28, instead of the familiar constant Pi, which is 3.14. There is much opinion and controversy surrounding this new movement.
The idea of celebrating Tau is now at least 10 years old, having cropped up in a 2001 essay by Bob Palais called "Pi is wrong!" But it exploded on the Internet on June 28, 2010, when Michael Hartl launched the Tau Manifesto, which explains why pi is confusing and should be replaced with tau. This idea of celebrating Tau is now at least 10 years old, having cropped up in a 2001 essay by Bob Palais called "Pi is wrong!" But it exploded on the Internet on June 28, 2010 -- when Michael Hartl launched the Tau Manifesto, a lengthy treatise about why pi is confusing and should be replaced with tau. For more information about Tau and Tau Day, visit this page. I invite you to share your ideas about Pi versus Tau on our Facebook page.