- Submitted By: vikas2k
- Date Submitted: 02/07/2009 6:52 AM
- Category: Science
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What is pi ( )? Who first used pi? How do you find its value? What is it for? How many digits is it?By definition, pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi is always the same number, no matter which circle you use to compute it. For the sake of usefulness people often need to approximate pi. For many purposes you can use 3.14159, which is really pretty good, but if you want a better approximation you can use a computer to get it. Here's pi to many more digits: 3.14159265358979323846. The area of a circle is pi times the square of the length of the radius, or "pi r squared": A = pi*r^2 A very brief history of piPi is a very old number. We know that the Egyptians and the Babylonians knew about the existence of the constant ratio pi, although they didn't know its value nearly as well as we do today. They had figured out that it was a little bigger than 3; the Babylonians had an approximation of 3 1/8 (3.125), and the Egyptians had a somewhat worse approximation of 4*(8/9)^2 (about 3.160484), which is slightly less accurate and much harder to work with. For more, see A History of Pi by Petr Beckman (Dorset Press). The modern symbol for pi [ ] was first used in our modern sense in 1706 by William Jones, who wrote: There are various other ways of finding the Lengths or Areas of particular Curve Lines, or Planes, which may very much facilitate the Practice; as for instance, in the Circle, the Diameter is to the Circumference as 1 to (16/5 - 4/239) - 1/3(16/5^3 - 4/239^3) + ... = 3.14159... = (see A History of Mathematical Notation by Florian Cajori). Pi (rather than some other Greek letter like Alpha or Omega) was chosen as the letter to represent the number 3.141592... because the letter [ ] in Greek, pronounced like our letter 'p', stands for 'perimeter'. About PiPi is an infinite decimal. Unlike numbers such as 3, 9.876, and 4.5, which have finitely many nonzero numbers to the right of the decimal place, pi has infinitely many numbers...