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Favorite Things: Eating Pie, Analyzing Data, and Irrational Numbers

Happy Pi Day this coming weekend!

What is Pi Day? Nominally, it’s a celebration of the mathematical concept of pi from high school geometry class (it involves circles), but my kids and I use it as an annual excuse to eat more pie.pi day

Actually, Saturday is technically Pi Day only in countries where the date format is like this: MM/DD. That’s because in those countries March 14 is written as 3/14 – get it? Pi = 3.14.

People in countries that use the date format DD/MM could wait until Pi Approximation Day (yes, that is a real thing), which is July 22. That’s written as 22/7; 22 divided by 7 is 3.14, hence, pi. But who wants to wait months to have an extra serving of pie? I say go for it now. Anyway, who among the pi cognoscenti would throw stones? You can bet I’ll consider myself Australian on that date, for snack purposes.

I was thinking this could also be also a good chance to extol the virtues of all the great pie charts in iCarol. Head over to the Statistics area, and you’ll see lots of ways you could use pie charts to display your data. My favorite part is when you make a pie chart, you can click on the slices to drill down into the data even further.dnc-d8v0puku

But really, that’s torturing the homonym a bit too far, with no satisfying gustatory payoff.

So instead I’ll end with a handy way to remember the first few digits of pi. I can’t say that I run into too much need to calculate the area of a circle with such precision, or, frankly, with any precision at all. But it has helped me annoy — er I mean impress — friends at parties. Where, of course, I parlay this knowledge into getting extra pie. It all comes full circle (pardon the pun).

Here’s the memory trick — the words in the following sentence each have the same number of letters as the first few digits of pi:

“How I wish I could calculate pi easily” (that is, “how” = 3 letters, “I” = 1, “wish” = 4, etc., so the sentence helps me remember the first digits of pi: 3.1415926).

I hope this earns you as many desserts as it has for me. And if you have the stomach for further party-scoring-knowledge, here’s another: Pi is considered, in mathematical terms, an irrational number. That means the digits go on forever.

Somehow it gives me great comfort to know that some numbers truly, technically, are irrational.

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