My Things for Pi Day


I regret not having the time or energy to write something original about π for today. I hope you’ll accept this offering of past Reading the Comics posts covering the day, and some of my other π-related writings:

For the Pi Day Of The Century (3/14/15) I wrote Calculating Pi Terribly. It’s about a legitimate way to calculate the digits of π, using so very much work that nobody will ever do it. But the wonderful thing about it is it’s experimental. And it doesn’t involve something with an obvious circle. A couple months later I followed up with Calculating Pi Less Terribly, using one of the most famous numerical methods for calculating the digits of π. It’s still not that good, but it’s far better than the experimental approach.

In 2019, as part of that year’s A-to-Z, I wrote more extensively about Buffon’s Needle problem, the core of this experimental method for finding digits of π.

And then there’s comic strips. I seem to complain every year that there’s fewer Pi Day comic strips than I expected, which invites the question of just what I expect. Here’s, as best I can tell, the actual record:

I have not yet read today’s comics, so don’t know what they’ll offer. We shall see! Also, I apologize but some of the comics may have been removed from GoComics or Comics Kingdom, and so the links may be dead. I’m not happy about that. But if I wanted the essays discussing these strips to stay permanently sensible I’d have posted the comics on my own web site.

And one last thing, bringing up an essay I’ve shared before. The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Normal Numbers is … maybe … about π. Nobody knows whether π is a normal number. It most likely is, but we haven’t been able to prove it.

And the last thing. When I thought I would have time this March, I hoped to write something about how π can be defined starting from differential equations. Things changed my plans out from under me. But my 2020 A-to-Z essay on the Exponential gets at some of why π should turn up in the correct differential equation. That essay sets you up more to understand a famous equation, that e^{\pi \imath} + 1 = 0 . But it’s not too far to getting π out of solving y''(t) = -y(t) in the right circumstances. I may get to writing that one yet.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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