One trillion digits and counting: Pi Day celebrated at CCA

 A Pi Day celebration was held at the Community College of Aurora, coincidentally enough, on March 14 (3.14). Held from 11 a.m. to 1:59 p.m. (3.14159), the event featured a brief history of Pi, as well as rounds of Pi trivia, a Pi memorization contest, and team competitions.

The symbol π, usually written as “pi,” is the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet and is the numerical value of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (approximately 3.14159). Pi Day was created in 1989 by physicist Larry Shaw, and the designation received official support by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009.

According to the website, Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits past the decimal with the use of computers. “Pi is an irrational and transcendental number,” the site reports, “meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating.”

James Gray, CCA math department chair, and Sasa Jovic, CCA math instructor, took turns leading the students through Pi Day events. One of the most challenging tests proved to be the Pi memorization contest, in which students studied the first 41 digits of π posted on a wall of the Student Centre Rotunda. Then, one by one, contestants donned blindfolds and recited the numbers aloud from memory. While no one succeeded in remembering all 41 digits, a rousing time was had by all, supporting the notion that math can, indeed, be fun!

PHOTO CAPTION: As Math Department Chair James Gray looks on, CCA student Isaac Slate searches his memory in an effort to recite as many digits as possible in a Pi memorization contest on March 14. The first 41 digits in Pi are posted on the wall behind.

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