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Stephanie Oh

A Piece of Pi with Wolfram|Alpha

March 14, 2014 —
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Whether math is your favorite subject or the bane of your existence, we can think of at least one day on which you might look forward to math class. Every March 14, many teachers take it upon themselves to indulge students’ sugar cravings with a variety of pies, but not before forcing them into some kind of plate-measuring, digit-memorizing, or Pi-ku-writing event (yes, these are real things).

Here at Wolfram|Alpha, we want to celebrate right along with math educators! In honor of this delicious day, let’s investigate some questions related to pi and see how Wolfram|Alpha can help you get ahead in your Pi Day festivities.

So, what exactly is pi?


Wolfram|Alpha has quite a few facts about pi. Start out with the most simple definition: pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

pi illustrated

Investigate further: measure the circumference and diameter of a paper plate. Once you have that information, you can use pi to calculate the area of said plate. For example, let’s say you have a plate with a radius of 4 inches.

Area of a circle calculator

Those plates are looking empty… let’s head over to the local grocer for some real fun: PIE!

Personally, I can never decide between apple and pecan pie. So I can use Wolfram|Alpha to help me compare the two, though let’s be honest, I’m eating both.

apple pie vs pecan pie

Wolfram Alpha has the nutritional information for a variety of pies.

pie options

This nutritional data comes in handy with the dreaded “pie slice for every pi digit memorized and repeated” competition! I can remember back to sixth grade, when my math teacher gave us (very thin!) slices of pie based on the number of pi digits we could memorize.

first 10 digits of pi

Start out with the first 10 digits of pi. Then you can add on 5 digits at a time. Have a friend test you.

seventh digit of pi

The Guinness World Record for memorizing the most digit of pi is held by Chao Lu for memorizing 67,890 digits. Imagine being his friend checking his answers.

67,890 digits of pi

That job would be a lot easier using Wolfram|Alpha.

5827th digit of Pi

All I can say is that hopefully Chao’s sixth grade teacher didn’t promise him as many slices of pie as digits of pi he could memorize.

Last but not least, the strangest Pi Day tradition: the Pi-ku. An English haiku poem usually consists of three lines with 5, 7, and 5 syllables, respectively. Well, you guessed it: a Pi-ku is a poem consisting of 3, 1, and 4 syllables.

A Pi-ku
A Pi Day poem

If you didn’t know already, the Wolfram Language is available on the Raspberry Pi. So go check out the cool things that people are up to and join in on the conversation. And in celebration of Pi Day, leave in the comments your best Pi Day Pi-ku—extra points if you can work in Raspberry Pi somewhere.


Its really a nice piece of writing, stephanie,
I am also a mathematics lover and really enjoyed this pi story..
thank you

Posted by A Raza March 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I memorized pi to 150 digits back in junior high for a full cherry pie. Obviously the work and reward ratio was well below minimum wage, but then again, I was in junior high!

Posted by Joe Homan April 29, 2014 at 9:52 am

Thanks stephanie for sharing such a great piece of writing. I loved the style of your writing.. (y)

Posted by Junaid Jamshed May 24, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Nice stephanie , i love mathematics and this is an awesome post.

Posted by PBT June 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

Write with both hands simultaneously. The two hemispheres of the brain develop.

Posted by Irina March 8, 2015 at 9:37 am