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The beauty of Pi

26 15 3

On Pi Day, March 14 – a date that coincides with Pi’s best known value of 3.14 – I asked grade eight children what they knew of Pi. They responded by reciting formulas. But they knew nothing more. They neither knew about the fascinating origins of zero in our Subcontinent nor about famous mathematical events, such the measurement of the Earth’s circumference by Al Beruni near Pind Dadan Khan.

Teachers say that, aside from what is in textbooks, children in our schools, even in private ones, generally have poor knowledge of the mathematical world. Our own mathematicians are unknown to them, even world famous ancient mathematicians of the Subcontinent, like Aryabhata or Brahmagupta. This is lamentable. No wonder that Pi Day passed unnoticed in our country.

Mathematics must be popularised. History is evidence that no country advances economically or otherwise without a mastery over mathematics. Celebrating Pi Day nationally each year would be a small but significant step to start popularising mathematics. America has been celebrating Pi Day since 2009 to encourage ‘schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.’ We should do the same.

Pi is a fascinating number to begin this effort and would certainly catch the imagination of our children. It is a celebrity among so many interesting numbers like Phi, which represents the golden ratio and has been used in art and design for over two thousand years; and e, i, 0 and 1, which are no less important and interesting.

Pi has a fascinating history. It has been studied in every millennium and in every culture. It is examined today as seriously as in the times of Archimedes of Syracuse over two thousand........

© The News International