Who Invented Pi?


As many know, 3/14 is Pi day, and many are celebrating!

But who actually invented Pi?

The earliest written approximations of Pi were found in Egypt and in Babylon around 1900 B.C. The Babylonians treated Pi as 25/8 or 3.1250. The Egyptians treated Pi as 16/9 or 3.1605. 

The Ancient Greeks were the first to use an algorithm to figure out Pi. They used the Polygon approximation method created and applied by Archimedes. Around 250 B.C, Archimedes calculated that 223/71 < Pi < 22/7. He calculated Pi to two decimal points (3.1408 < Pi < 3.1429) and the 22/7 approximation that was used by mathematicians for centuries afterwards.

China also deserves mention for perfecting the method and creating more accurate estimations.

While many credit the famous mathematician Leonard Euler for introducing the symbol of Pi, the symbol was actually first used in 1706 by the mathematics teacher William Jones. π had been used in other works, but this was the first time it was used to represent the constant that we know today. He also believed that Pi was infinite and therefore could not be represented as a ratio. This was later proven by Johann Lambert.

There you have it, a brief history on who helped to create Pi. 

Sources:
http://www.historytoday.com/patricia-rothman/william-jones-and-his-circle-man-who-invented-pi
http://delphiforfun.org/programs/Math_Topics/Archimedes_PI.htm



11 comments:

  1. I like to believe that pi was created before the 1900s. During the time of Archimedes (a few hundred years before) there were many smart Greek mathematicians. I think that many people probably had the theory of what we now call 'Pi' long before the 1900s. Now whether the idea was ever confirmed or known common to the pubic before 1900 is another question. But considering how important of a number Pi is in solving geometric problems... I think that some people must have at least considered the theory of the number.

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    1. My understanding is that by the late 1800s many aspects of Pi, (like how its infinite, and solving it to past 50 decimal points, and that its not an algebraic number) was already proved. They were just working on finding more decimal points by the time the 1900s came along. William Jones in the 1700s was working on Pi and had theories about how it was infinite. Ancient Civilizations understood the constant that Pi represents today, and they used it. As I mentioned the Egyptians and the Babylonians had estimated Pi pretty well by 1900 B.C. Pi isn't a new concept :D. Its just something that keeps being built on!

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  2. Even though this may not be relevant, maybe add about raspberry pi? :P

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