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Pi Day, March 14, Celebrated by Students across the Country

Image: Pi Day, March 14, Celebrated by Students across the Country Heather Metallides, Director of Science and Health at Waltham High School in Waltham, Mass., accepts apple pies in honor of Pi Day (March 14, or 3.14) courtesy of Raytheon Company. Recognition of Pi Day is a part of the company's MathMovesU® initiative that encourages kids to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Thursday, 14 Mar 2013 02:58 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Students across the nation are celebrating Pi Day on Thursday, the annual celebration that commemorates the mathematical constant π (pi) which is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

The day has been observed in schools every March 14 for the past 25 years, because the infinite number rounds to 3.14.

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Physicist Larry Shaw founded the day at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988.

The House of Representatives recognized National Pi Day on March 12, 2009, in a non-binding resolution.

Middle schools, elementary schools, and universities mark the holiday with pie eating contests to events on football fields shaped like the mathematical constant (π) to promote and educate others.

Thursday morning, students at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena devoured 130 pies in front of dormitories in celebration of Pi Day, The Los Angeles Times reported.

"It’s a celebration of nerdiness," said Christopher Perez, president of the university's math club. "Pi literally shows up everywhere -- in science, in math and nature. A circle is such a fundamental concept."

At the San Francisco Exploratorium, the birthplace of Pi Day, staff installed a "pi shrine" to commemorate the 25-year anniversary of the day. They also organized a pi parade and held seminars about the importance of the number.

In addition to describing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, the number is also used to calculate a circle’s area and has multiple purposes in trigonometry, physics, statistics, cosmology, and fluid dynamics, to name a few.

Mathematicians have been attempting to understand pi for thousands of years. Greek mathematician Archimedes figured out that pi was slightly bigger than 22/7 through the use of geometrical techniques.

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Although it is generally rounded to 3.14, the decimal is infinite, and computers have so far attributed 10 trillion digits to it.

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