Math lovers celebrate Pi Day at Dalhousie University

Number lovers are savouring Pi Day Friday with a slice of their favourite pie.

The 'transcendental' number draws cult following — and pie lovers

Dalhousie University math student Lucas Mol reels off a piece of pi at Pi day celebrations. He learned it so he could throw a pie at his Grade 8 math teacher. 0:23

Number lovers are savouring Pi Day Friday with a slice of their favourite pie.

Danielle Cox, a recent Dalhousie University PhD graduate who now works with a school outreach program, came to the party with a pi necklace and pi t-shirt.

“I’m all decked out for Pi Day,” she laughs. 

It's the maths department. We're embracing the number and the nerdiness of it.- Danielle Cox

Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Its short version is 3.14 — hence Pi Day on March 14, or 3/14.

Cox says the infinite number has a cult following.

“In math, it comes up all the time,” she says. “Mathematicians, we’re fascinated by this number.”  

Pi has been computed past 10 trillion digits. “There are quite a few,” Cox notes.

Indiana tries to outlaw pi

Pi dates back at least as far as Archimedes, the Greek mathematician who used it circa 250 B.C. Isaac Newton was a fan, too.

Pi has had its opponents. “In 1897, Indiana tried to pass a law saying that pi was 3.2, and that was it,” Cox says. “But that’s not it. That’s not what pi is. All your calculations would be off.

“If you’re an engineer, maybe that would be grave consequences. As a mathematician, it would be upsetting. Because that’s not what pi is.”

The anti-pi bill failed. 

The U.K.’s Friends of Pi requires you to know it to 100 places to join. It’s kind of a Mensa for mathophiles.

The “irrational, transcendental number” continues to fascinate, she says, pointing to the packed room at Dalhousie celebrating pi.

“The free pie helps,” she admits. “It’s the maths department. We’re embracing the number and the nerdiness of it.”

Lucas Mol, a math student at Dalhousie, reels it off to about 50 places.

“In Grade 8, our teacher said the person who memorized the most digits could throw a pie in his face,” he explains.

Mol beat the rest of his classmates and got the opportunity many students only dream of, to toss a whipped cream pie into his teacher's face.