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Pi Day vs. Half Tau Day

By now my views on Pi Day are well documented (see earlier posts from 2011 and 2009 if you’re curious). Recently, though, I’ve decided to try to be a little less curmudgeonly when it comes to math holidays. Consequently, while it would be easy to provide snarky commentary on articles with particularly egregious mathematical errors, this year I will try to restrain myself.

As I’ve said before, one of my biggest problems with Pi day is that the activities are, for the most part, a little ridiculous, and don’t actually do anything to better the general populace’s understanding of mathematics. Last year, I explained why contests involving the recitation of digits of are silly, so this year I’d like to offer an alternative. Why not use the day as an opportunity to debate with students the relative merits of and ?

Of course, I’m talking about more than Greek letters . . . → Read More: Pi Day vs. Half Tau Day

Pi Day Post Mortem

Dessert aside, long-time readers are probably already aware of my decidedly mixed feelings towards Pi Day (see, for example, here). Nevertheless, the holiday seems only to be growing in popularity, and so I feel compelled to take it to task once again.

In my earlier post, I complained about mathematical mistakes that frequently appeared in Pi Day articles aimed at a general audience; these errors still exist, but rather than nitpick, let me instead focus on the most bothersome activity of the day. I’m speaking, of course, about pi recitation competitions.

Reciting the digits of pi is, unfortunately, becoming a popular activity – dare I say even a tradition – on Pi Day. Competitors recite as many digits of pi as they can, and the person who can recite the most digits is declared the winner. As I’ve said before, I fail to see the point of this exercise. From . . . → Read More: Pi Day Post Mortem