Monday, March 14, 2011

A Different Kind of π-Day

March 14th, Pi Day. On this most important day math geeks and students-with-no-choice alike celebrate the number π: the mathematical constant equal to the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, usually by baking or buying a delicious pie to share with friends.

This year, I want to bring to attention an interesting idea: that the number π is stupid. A circle is defined by its center and its radius, and by defining π using diameter (two radii), we complicate things unnecessarily. Instead, mathematicians could use Tau, defined by the ratio of a circle's circumference to its radius.

Now, obviously, the constant π is enshrined in mathematics (could we ever really change the beautiful Euler's Identity, e^(iπ)-1=0 ?), but it's certainly fun to imagine alternative structures based around Γ. For more information, read The Tau Manifesto by Michael Hartl. Happy π-Day!

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