Happy Belated Pi Day

I know, I know – the π day was yesterday. But as you know, I am way to lazy to post here on the weekends. Look at it this way: thanks to me you can celebrate the π holiday one day longer than usual.

Here is the obligatory π day question: how many digits of π do you have memorized? And if your answer is more than 5, I have a follow up question: why? No seriously, why? There are so many other things you could memorize instead. Things you could actually use in your daily life such as the stats of D&D monsters, video game trivia, internet memes or, I don’t know, Quenya vocab words. Practical things. There is really no reason to memorize a hundred digits of π because there is never situation where you would need more than 4 or 5 and were without means to look up the remaining ones. In fact, if you use that much precision it would be recommended to look it up, rather than rely on your memory.

Obligatory pi day cartoon.

The proper answer to the question “What is the 25th digit of π” is “I don’t know, but I can look it up”. That is a scientific approach. Remembering a million digits of π is not even geeky. It’s just… Silly. I think the amount of respect you get for remembering digits π tops out around 5 or 6 and then starts falling sharply. It’s like: “you know way to many digits of π sir, I don’t know if we can be friends”. I don’t know if I can actually trust anyone who can sit there and memorize numbers like this. I mean, I hardly even have time to think about memorizing stuff – my brain works overtime as it is. If you can memorize so many pi digits you either don’t have that much going on upstairs (so you can spend time memorizing instead of thinking about things) or you just have a very good memory. Both possibilities disturb me.

On the other hand, calculating π is cool because it actually does something productive. It pushes the limits of what we can do with technology. The discipline is all about creating efficient algorithms. That’s something I can get behind. Everyone can memorize bunch of numbers given enough time and effort – rote memorization is a dumb busy work though. Not everyone can write an algorithm that will calculate 27 trillion digits of π within 130 days using a desktop PC. That’s the current record btw – 27 trillion.

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4 Responses to Happy Belated Pi Day

  1. Adam Dempsey UNITED KINGDOM Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    I remember it to 9 decimal places, but that’s just because that’s how much my calculator used to display at school! I must of not paid much attention in maths and ended up just staring ay my calculator a lot!

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  2. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I remember it as far as 3.14159, and then I’d be guessing (although the next decimal place turned out to be what I would guess at… probably)

    As far as feats of memory go, I am also more impressed by memorisation of useful things. For example, it would be nice if I could remember all the roads around my area, so I’d know where I was going when making an unfamiliar trip (i.e. I know the route from A to B, and A to C, but then when I need to go from B to C the only route I would know without some guesswork is BAC)

    Or maybe a bunch of recipes… that would be useful knowledge.

    What I actually have committed to memory is an odd assortment of trivia and pop culture from games, TV and films. I could still probably name all the original Pokemon, given some time. Then tell you which were the good ones too.

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  3. Chrissy UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    My math class in high school had a poster on the wall of pi to 50 digits. When I was bored in that class, which was often, I just sat and memorized the numbers. I still remember half of them.

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  4. Is that a challenge? I’ve often thought of doing that, someday, when…
    I might try again. I’d really like to try it in Forth, that should be a lot of fun. Thanks for the prod. -d

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