The History Of Pi

Math Report

2/1/04

Throughout history mankind has used pi, the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter. 4,000 years ago pi was discovered and today is applied to everyday life. Pi can be applied to things in many different ways and the early calculations were different depending on the culture.

In 2,000 b.c. the Babylonians recognized pi. They estimated pi at 3.1250. Later the Egyptians and Chinese would continue the research of Pi and calculate pi as 3.1605 and 3.0. 1,500 years later (500 B.C.) the Greeks began an extensive research on geometry. Archimedes then found a close approximation of Pi using his “method of exhaustion”. Later Johann Hienrich Lambert proved that Pi was irrational and couldn’t be calculated exactly. In Present day, Pi is calculated near 3.14.

Once mathematicians knew Pi they could do a lot of things with it. They could find out how much grain could fit in a circular granary, how much land was enclosed in a circular fence, and many more problems of everyday life.

Pi cannot be calculated exactly but is being researched every year. In the late 1800’s Pi was calculated to 700 places. Later, The first computer, ENIAC calculated Pi to 2,037 places. And finally in 1991 Pi was calculated to well over 2 billion places.

Pi comes from the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet Pi, which is the first letter of the word perimetros meaning perimeter.

Pi has helped us advance in many ways and will continue to do so. It is a tool we find ourselves using in everyday math.